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Crossing the 49th Parallel: Land Issues For Oil and Gas Operations in the United States and Canada

Colby L. Branch, Kemp J. Wilson, William H. Bonney, Q.C., J. Jay Park, Proceedings of 46th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2000)

In recent years, cross border activity in the oil and gas industry has increased significantly. United States-based oil and gas companies have become more active in Canada, and Canadian companies have ventured south of the border in growing numbers. The Canada/U.S. border is of lesser relevance [23-3] to oil and gas companies today. However, the same cannot be said of the laws and rules that govern oil and gas activity in Canada and the United States. Indeed, if anything they have become more important to oil and gas operations.

This paper presents an overview of oil and gas land issues in the United States and Canada, intended for those in the petroleum industry interested in conducting operations on both sides of the international border. It provides a general discussion of the nature of land and mineral ownership in each country, means of accessing oil and gas rights, regulatory limitations on rights of access, and current issues that may affect access. Due to the breadth of the subject matter, particular emphasis will be confined to the province of Alberta, and to the northern Rocky Mountain states of Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The general concepts discussed, however, apply throughout the respective countries.