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Clearing Title of Long-Lost Mineral Owners

Timothy C. Dowd, Proceedings of 54th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2008)

Fractionalization of severed mineral estates often results in many mineral owners whose whereabouts are unknown. Compounding this problem is that, frequently, these interests are very small. This chapter explores what can be done to clear title to such interests, particularly when the owners cannot be located.
The chapter includes, but is not limited to: (1) operating under cotenancy laws; (2) dormant mineral statutes, which allow surface owners to reclaim mineral interests, if the mineral owner does not actively pursue the minerals within a certain period of time; (3) trust and receivership statutes, which allow either an individual or a court to act as a trustee or receiver for mineral owners who cannot be located; (4) compulsory or forced pooling proceedings; and (5) other court proceedings.
§ 30.02 Tenants in Common
One option available to the operator is to just carry the unleased and unlocatable mineral owner.
Cotenancy in property arises when two or more persons become owners of property in such a manner that they have an undivided right of possession. The only element essential to a cotenancy is the right of simultaneous possession.1
The earliest questions that arose in applying the laws of cotenancy to oil and gas matters dealt with the issue of whether a cotenant or his lessee could produce oil or gas without the consent of the other cotenants. The