Increasing oil and gas discoveries in Ohio has led more and more property owners to search for profitable minerals on their land. However, surface landowners are often surprised to learn that they cannot drill on their property because another individual or entity owns the rights to the gas, oil, coal, or other minerals beneath the surface. Even though the property is undeveloped, the surface property owner cannot extract the minerals from the land – or lease the drilling rights – unless he or she also holds the underground rights.
The Ohio Dormant Mineral Act provides specific procedures for property owners to claim another landowner’s mineral rights to these undeveloped underground resources.
If you are a surface owner seeking to obtain rights in sub-surface resources, you are required to: 1) notify the mineral rights holder of your intent to declare his or her interest abandoned, and 2) 30 to 60 days later, file an affidavit of abandonment with the county recorder’s office. If the mineral rights owner does not act, the law considers his or her rights abandoned, and you will take possession of the underground mineral interest.
If you are the mineral rights owner, you have two options to preserve the interest. You can: 1) file a claim with the county recorder to preserve the interest, or 2) file an affidavit that identifies one of several specific events (such as the production of minerals or a title transaction) that has occurred on the land within the previous 20 years. These actions demonstrate to the property owner that the mineral rights have not been abandoned.
Regardless of whether you own the surface rights or the mineral rights, following the proper procedural steps are essential to preserving your rights, and it is advisable to consult an attorney before proceeding.