The ownership of rights to minerals, including oil and gas, contained in a tract of land. A mineral right is a real property interest and can be conveyed independently of the surface estate. Mineral rights generally include the right to sell all or part of the interest, the right to enter the land to produce and carry on production activities, the right to lease the mineral rights to others, and the right to create fractional shares of the mineral interest. Also referred to as a “mineral interest” or a “mineral estate."
Mineral Rights Leasing
Owners of mineral rights can permit others to explore and exploit the land's mineral resources in exchange for royalties and other considerations through a mineral lease. The lease will generally establish the royalties that will be paid to the landowner, the period the agreement will remain in effect, and other key provisions.
Surface Use Agreement
Some states require that surface owners and mineral owners enter into a “surface use agreement,” which outlines the rights and responsibilities of each party with regards to use of the surface. Parties may also choose to enter such agreements voluntarily. The surface use agreements may include, for example, a provision that requires the lessee to restore the surface to its natural state upon conclusion of operations or a provision for the mutual use of roads. Clearly written and negotiated surface use agreements can reduce the changes of litigation between the parties.
[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]