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Apportionment of Rents and Royalties Among Subdivided Tracts

Frank J. Scurlock, Proceedings of 1st Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1955)

The apportionment of rents and royalties among subdivided tracts has been a difficult problem for the courts of nearly all of the oil producing states; and with the progressive development of oil and gas in this area it is reasonable to assume that the courts of this area will, likewise, be confronted with the problem. The subject is, therefore, very appropriate and timely. In view of the fact that a great amount has been written on the subject by other courts, it is anticipated that the courts of this area will encounter little difficulty in arriving at a correct solution.

All modern oil and gas leases expressly authorize the lessor to convey all or part of his land or royalty, but with the proviso that a division in ownership of the land shall not enlarge the obligations or diminish the rights of the lessee.1 It is not essential that the assignment clause be embodied in the lease, because independent of that clause both parties have the right to [132] assign or convey in whole or in part.2 However, the clause serves the useful purpose of making the lease more definite and certain.

As a general rule, the subdivision question arises in this manner. The owner of a tract of land gives a lease thereon, and subsequent thereto, the land is subdivided to the extent that the subdivided tracts are owned in severalty by two or more persons. Before development, the les