The Louisiana mineral code governs the ownership and excavation of minerals under land you own. Minerals include oil, gas, soil, gravel, shells, underground water, and other naturally-occurring substances found in soil or geological formations on or beneath land.
Our seasoned attorneys have compiled answers to common questions about different aspects of the mineral code. This will help you understand your rights if an oil, gas or mining company approaches you about excavating minerals under your land.
If you believe your mineral rights were violated or your land was damaged when companies extracted minerals, contact our environmental damage lawyers for a free, no obligation legal consultation. We can review all of your legal options.
Do I Own the Minerals on My Land?
Under Louisiana RS 31:6, you do not own the minerals under your land. The law grants ownership only after you extract minerals from the ground and have physical control, which allows you to deliver them to another entity. For example, landowners would have possession of oil only after pumping it from the ground and putting it into a tank or pipeline.
What are Mineral Rights?
Mineral rights include mineral servitude, mineral royalty and mineral lease, according to Louisiana Revised Statute (RS) 31:16. However, this does not preclude a landowner from creating other mineral rights.
What is a Mineral Servitude?
This refers to your exclusive and unlimited right to explore your land to find minerals and bring them to the surface so you have possession of them (Louisiana RS 31:8). The only restriction to this right is that you may not do anything that is prohibited by law to extract minerals.
Although property owners have the exclusive right to explore their land to uncover minerals, they often lease this right to companies in the business of extracting minerals from the ground.
What is a Mineral Lease?
This is a contract in which an individual with a mineral servitude gives someone else the right to explore land and obtain minerals. The basic elements of a mineral lease include:
This is the money you receive from the company at the beginning of the contract. The figure is usually stated in terms of dollars per acre.
This is the percentage of production income you receive from the sale of the mineral.
This is the length of the mineral lease. Typically, the primary term is three years, but it could be longer. However, the primary may never exceed 10 years.
What Can I Do if the Terms of My Lease are Violated?
You are entitled to any appropriate relief for violations of a mineral lease, under RS 31:134.
However, there are notice requirements for pursuing relief. For instance, if you are seeking relief due do the drainage of property or a failure to prudently develop and operate the property, you must provide written notice to the other party and allow a reasonable amount of time for correction of the issues.
Once you provide notice and the other party fails to comply, you can pursue compensation. However, the law allows you to collect compensation only for the damages that occurred after the date the written notice was received by the other party.
How Long Can You Retain Mineral Rights in Louisiana?
One of the privileges of having mineral rights as a property owner is that you maintain mineral servitude for as long as you own the land. If you decide to sell the land, you can reserve all or a portion of your mineral servitude by clearly stating in the deed to the property what amount of servitude you want to maintain. If you do not clearly specify what you are reserving, all mineral servitude goes to the new owner.
However, mineral servitude will automatically pass to the new owner after 10 years of non-use of your rights. This means you can maintain mineral servitude simply by doing something every 10 years that is considered a use. This could include drilling a well to extract oil.
How Do I Find Out Who Owns Mineral Rights in Louisiana?
You can check the deed to the property to find out if the previous owner maintained mineral servitude.
You can also check with the parish where the land is located, as state law says all sales, contracts and judgments that affect mineral rights are subject to the laws of registry. This way you can see all legal documents related to the mineral rights on the land. You might be able to find out when mineral servitude will pass to you based on non-use of rights.
Contact a Trusted Environmental Damage Attorney
Oil spills and other accidents that occur when companies attempt to extract minerals from the ground can cause significant environmental damage and health problems for those who live on the land.
Not only is environmental damage difficult and expensive to fix, it can also affect property value. The health effects from this environmental damage could be long-lasting and potentially life-threatening.
If your land was damaged or you are dealing with violations of a mineral lease or other disputes over mineral rights, you may be able to pursue a legal claim to obtain compensation.
Contact our oil and gas production lawyers today. We take cases on contingency, which means your initial consultation with our attorneys is free and we do not receive compensation unless you are compensated first.