Gas and Oil Company seeking out additional potential heirs to already leased property



Started March 17, 2017 at 10:56 am by @belmontlandowner in Belmont County, OH

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belmontlandowner
03/17/17 10:56:12AM
@belmontlandowner

Just Was Notified We Have Mineral Rights. Now What?

In 2008 we performed due diligence for the abandoned minerals rights on our property. The minerals were reserved back in 1914 and in 1922 under different people and percentages. As we could not locate any relatives for these people we filed the notice in a local paper per the 2006 statute. We then decided that it would be best to retain an attorney just in case we missed something. In 2011 he performed the due diligence  and again filed with the local paper as notification of our intent. We did receive a notice to preserve by someone but we were able to disprove his claim as he was not an entitled heir. Our attorney then filed a Quiet Title action with the courts. The gas company we signed with is now using Google and Ancestry.com to seek out relatives of people who reserved the mineral rights over 100 years ago and are having them sign leases. They are then soliciting these same people to BUY these mineral rights.


It all seems a little questionable to us. We only found out about this by accident and were not informed of this by the gas and oil company we signed with. I feel that this is a bad business practice by the gas company by not informing people that they signed leases with over 4 years ago that they are now seeking out potential heirs on property that had the due diligence performed to their satisfaction and on which the gas company themselves performed due diligence. I spoke with the head of our group last night and he was disappointed to hear that this was occurring without notification to the lease holder. If any one else is going through this can you please post and let us know what you are doing to fight this? I would also like to hear other thoughts on this and any ideas as to how handle this. Also check the Belmont County online records search under your gas and oil company's name fo r leases generated in 2017. You will have to view the PDF of each lease to see which plat numbers the lease is for to see if it's your property. That is how we found all of the newly signed leases on our property. Please post any findings. 

w. k. chirpas
03/17/17 11:11:19AM @w-k-chirpas:

To what company are you leased?


Dan17
03/17/17 11:30:15AM @dan17:

How long ago did you sign?


belmontlandowner
03/20/17 09:32:00AM @belmontlandowner:

We signed November of 2012. 


breeze10
03/17/17 01:04:34PM @breeze10:

How long is your lease?  You mention signing 4 years ago so I'm wondering, if it's a 5 year, if they are getting ready to add the new found heirs.  My father was contacted recently about being an heir to m.r. on property in Harrison County...lots of people, like 56 or so, on 100 acres are being sought as per landman.  This is through Ascent (sp?).  He got a lawyer who mentioned they are going away from local paper notices given how old the property is (for m.r.) and that most don't live there.  Not sure if there is a change in laws taking place in regards to due diligence in notifying heirs.  The lawyer also mentioned there appears to be a well on property with a permit filed in 2015, he's thinking they may have started drilling already.  Dad cannot locate the well on his end though.  None of us live in the area to check.  


mlanctot
03/17/17 01:55:03PM @mlanctot:

I am a landman working for one of the companies contracted to find these heirs and get them leased.  

Someone mentioned that gas companies were looking for relatives of people who reserved mineral rights 100 years ago.  In most cases...yep!  From where I sit, I don't see how it is bad business practices since operators were basically forced to do this due to a change in the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act statute.  

I'm not an attorney...not even close.   I won't even attempt to pretend to understand it 100%, and I truly believe not even the attorneys do.  

Here is one of many links that help explain why their are so many of us out there trying to find the now rightful heirs. I don't know it's fair, but I don't think it was the Operators choice to spend time and money chasing after heirs from so long ago.   It is NOT easy.   

It takes much more than Ancestry.com to find these folks.  My current assignment has more than 60 contacts that share 10 acres or so.   Good luck trying to get people to sign a lease and put their Social Security number on a W-9 for a 6 dollar signing bonus and royalties on .000146 acres.  

Anyway, here's that link.   I

http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/ohio-dormant-mineral-act-does-not-48460/


Jeremiah Johnson
03/17/17 07:19:09PM @jeremiah-johnson:

But if a landowner followed the 06 DMA, then there should not be any new leases on the property they protected under that law that was NOT served with a notice to preserve. Why would a company try to circumvent that?


belmontlandowner
03/17/17 09:41:24PM @belmontlandowner:
T
belmontlandowner
03/19/17 10:25:44AM @belmontlandowner:

To mlancetot, I'm responding to your comment about 'how is it bad business practice for the gas companies to seek out heirs'. Seeking out heirs in this case isn't bad business practice unto itself. However what I do consider a bad business practice is to 1: not notify the people that you have signed the lease with that you are doing this and 2: not first giving those people time to either prove they have the mineral interest if there is a question, or if they didn't perform the actions under the 2006 act, give them time to do so before you as the leaser seek out and notify potential heirs to the rights. Although we did fall under the 1989 statute we proceeded with following the 2006 statute as a CYA. We sent certified letters to those that we thought were potential heirs notifying them of our intent and also posted a notice in the newspaper not once but twice. The gas company is now saying this was not reasonable due diligence. Since I have proof that I researched all deeds and mineral agreements back to 1900(have copies) and then we hired an attorney who also researched all wills and probate along with the deeds and mineral agreements. We have a Judgment order along with a Quiet title order approved and filed with the court that is recorded in the Recorders office. When we asked the gas company why that wasn't sufficient they replied that they weren't aware of that. Now if you are able to locate a potential heir in California, shouldn't you also be able to locate a recorded item at the local court house?


Jeremiah Johnson
03/19/17 11:05:30AM @jeremiah-johnson:

Maybe to hold the royalties while they "investigate the true royalty holder(s)". Imagine how much royalty money they could potentially keep in a "trust" ( I use trust very loosely) and use that monies indefinitely.

I know that sounds a bit conspiracy theory-ish, but they have done less and gotten more.


belmontlandowner
03/19/17 05:51:06PM @belmontlandowner:
Yes that is what we wonder as well. We have spoken with our attorney and he says we may be able to file against the gas company for clouding the title.
Jeremiah Johnson
03/19/17 05:55:22PM @jeremiah-johnson:

I have a couple of friends up on chestnut level who are now having the same issue.


belmontlandowner
08/06/18 04:25:05PM @belmontlandowner:

Yes,

Those friends recently won their case in Belmont County after the Seventh District Court said it was "absurd for surface owners to be expected to contact people that they had neither names nor addresses for". Notice by publication was ruled to be sufficient. On 07/05/18 the Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear the argument - therefore the Seventh District Court ruling stands.


williet57
05/21/17 02:43:31PM @williet57:

Our Family was recently contacted by a landman stating that 17 of my cousins inherited  gas and mineral right from my grandfather  from 1920. and we all signed leases for this. On the plot map of the permitted well has the surface land owner on the parcel he said we had inherited.Been trying to contact landperson ,hard to get them.Does that mean we are out of luck  or is the surface owner out of luck.Confused  have  a lot of my cousins asking the same question. Do us and the surface owner split 50/50 or what.


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