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Developmental Conflicts and Constraints Dealing With the Problem of Coexistent Estates

Gerald J. Schissler, Proceedings of 22nd Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1976)

The severance of a mineral estate, whether the same is effected by a grant or reservation in a deed from a nonpublic owner or by a conveyance, generally a patent, from a governmental entity, creates separate rights of ownership and user in and to the resultant surface and mineral estates. The existence of such separate and diverse rights of ownership and user necessarily creates difficult questions regarding the extent and nature of the respective estates that may be outstanding in several persons and the concurrent use and development of such estates. Illustrative of the conflicts which may be encountered are estates coexisting between (a) the landowner or surface owner; (b) a lessee from the landowner of less than the entire mineral estate; (c) the lessee of a specific mineral; (d) the lessee of other minerals from either the landowner or from a governmental entity; (e) the locator of locatable minerals; (f) a lessee of agricultural or grazing rights; (g) the holder of surface or subsurface rights-of-way and easements, and the various combinations of such parties.

Even a cursory consideration of the illustrations set [204] forth above leads to the inevitable conclusion that the horizontal division of land into surface and mineral estates must indeed engender conflicts, some quite severe, between the competing users and developers of coexistent estates. This subject