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Changing Concepts in Federal Oil and Gas Lease Title Security

Thomas J. Cavanaugh, Proceedings of 10th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1965)

The discussions herein are limited to problems affecting lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, exclusive of Outer Continental Shelf Lands.

While the usual disclaimer respecting the nonofficial character of this article is ordinarily to be found in a footnote, the article contains a number of statements of opinion and some suggestions for policy which have never been officially considered by the Department of the Interior, and it must be emphasized that such opinions and suggestions are those of the author and do not represent an official position of the Department of the Interior.


Legislative Policy

Although there were a number of amendments to the Mineral Leasing Act of February 25, 1920,1 during the [340] first thirty years of its operation, some of which had the effect of strengthening the lessee's tenure. This effect, however, was generally incidental to other purposes. For example, in 1935, for the first time the federal lessee was assured of a tenure coextensive with the life of production from the leased premises by an amendment to the act eliminating the fixed term with a preferential right to renewal and the substitution of a term of five years and so long thereafter as oil or gas was produced in paying quantities.2 The real reason for this change in the act when