Texas oil and gas law is complex, with certain rights afforded to both mineral and landowners. The existence of two distinct estates—the mineral estate and the surface estate—and the common severance of these estates can lead to many disputes. Furthermore, modern oil and gas extraction techniques, including fracking, can cause contentious disagreements between estate owners.
If you are dealing with an oil and gas law matter, such as a title dispute or royalties issue, Howry Breen & Herman can help. For nearly 25 years, our team of skilled litigators has represented mineral and landowners in all types of oil and gas litigation. Unlike many other law firms in the area, we are highly experienced trial attorneys. Our team has tried thousands of cases and we are consistently recognized as being very successful in front of judges and juries.
Understanding Texas Oil & Gas Law
Texas is one of several U.S. states with an abundance of natural mineral resources. With private ownership of oil, gas, and other minerals, however, comes heavy regulation. Both federal and state law govern the ownership, extraction, and distribution of minerals throughout Texas and the U.S. as a whole.
In Texas, oil and gas ownership is divided into two distinct estates or set of rights: the surface estate, or the rights of the landowner, and the mineral estate, or the rights of the person or company that owns the sub-surface oil, gas, or other minerals. Typically, these estates are owned by two separate parties. Often, the actual operation of the surface is carried out by a party that has taken a lease (known as the lessee) from the mineral owner (the lessor).
Texas law generally grants “dominance” to the mineral estate. In other words, the mineral owner or the lessee has broad rights to use the surface in any way and to any reasonable extent for the purpose of oil or gas exploration, extraction, development, or production. There are certain exceptions to this rule, notably, if the terms of the mineral lease or deed explicitly limit free surface use. Additionally, municipal ordinances and local laws may limit surface use rights.
Types of Oil & Gas Litigation Issues We Handle
At Howry Breen & Herman, we represent individuals and businesses in all types of oil and gas disputes and related issues. Whether you are a surface owner wondering about your land control rights or you are a mineral owner currently embroiled in a joint operating agreement dispute, we can help.
Our firm can assist you with any oil and gas litigation issue, including but not limited to:
- Royalty disputes
- Contract disputes
- Title and lease issues
- Property damage claims
- Joint operating agreements
- Fracking disputes
- Mineral owner rights
- Landowner rights
- Easement disputes
- Mineral transportation and storage
- Pollution and/or emissions
- Drilling disputes
- Oil and gas personal injury
Our goal is simple: to help you achieve the best possible result for your case. With this in mind, our Austin oil and gas litigation attorneys take the time to understand your unique situation and goals. We understand that every mineral interest is different. We are here to listen to your concerns and aggressively advocate for your interests.