Skip to content

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”)?

A:

Hydraulic fracturing is a well completion process used in nine out of 10 natural gas wells in the United States, where a mixture of water, sand and small percentage of chemicals are pumped underground into the producing formation to create or enhance natural fractures within the rock to help release gas or oil trapped within formations which have low natural permeability. See Graphic below:

fracking_graphic

http://www.propublica.org/special/hydraulic-fracturing-national

Q: Are fracking and drilling the same thing?

A:

Hydraulic Fracturing is a well completion process, not a part of the drilling process. For more information, please visit the link below to watch an informative video:

Natural Gas Horizontal Shale Drilling

Q: Is fracking safe?

A:

Yes. Hydraulic Fracturing is a safe and effective completion process utilized domestically since 1947. To date, there has been no reputable evidence of migration of fluids used in the completion of a well into fresh water zones without there being a surface spill or a catastrophic failure of the well casing.

Q: How long does an oil and gas lease last?

A:

Leases usually have several stipulations that affect duration. The primary term & option term are fixed periods of time designated by the lessee (i.e. five years) during which the lessee must achieve a certain result – usually drilling a well. If the result is not carried out during the primary term, the lessee may have the option to extend the lease. If the lessee fulfills its well obligations during the primary or secondary term, the lease will continue as long as there is production from the well. Wells can often produce for decades.

Q: Can I still sell my property?

A:

Yes, the property being subject to an oil & gas lease or right of way does not affect your ability to sell the property. The lease/easement is a covenant running with the land, meaning the new owners will be subject to the lease or right-of-way as if they leased it themselves.

Q: The company that I have a lease with is asking to do seismic testing on my property. What is seismic testing, and what does it mean for me?

A:

Companies will do seismic testing in areas to develop more information regarding the target formation and/or various shale plays, the thickness, and depths. This information then helps them determine well pad placement and drilling direction for a horizontal well. Ultimately, testing helps operators maximize the recovery of the minerals to the benefits of both the operator and mineral owner.

Q: Can a company drill on my property without obtaining a lease? Can a well from a neighboring property horizontally extend and extract gas from under my property if it is not leased?

A:

A company cannot drill on your property without obtaining a lease for it, nor can they horizontally drill under your property without obtaining a lease for it. However, when there is a well near a property line, it is possible for gas from an area of greater concentration to flow to an area of lesser concentration – from under your property to the horizontal leg not under your property. States generally have minimum setbacks from Unit boundaries and the operator must adhere to this requirement. The “Rule of Capture” is generally the “law of the land” when it comes to potential drainage issues.

Q: Could a natural gas and crude oil well devalue my property?

A:

There is no evidence that a natural gas or crude oil well will negatively impact the value of your property. On the contrary, the royalty revenues often enhance a property’s worth.

Q: Could a pipeline devalue my property?

A:

Once the installation and construction of the pipeline is completed, normal farming can occur over the pipeline. The only limitation is that you would not be able to build directly over it. With attention being paid to current/future uses of the property in the planning and routing of the pipeline, there shouldn’t be any issues as far as a decline in property value. There is currently no evidence that a pipeline will devalue your property.

Q: Can I use an access road constructed by the operator?

A:

This depends on arrangements made with the specific operator. Most operators allow you to utilize the access road constructed for Oil & Gas Operations on your property, but that right can be limited or prohibited during the construction phase. Other operators discourage it altogether.

Q: How much land is required for a drilling site?

A:

It depends on the type of well and the target formation. A well location can be as small as an acre or less, or could be as large as 10 acres in a situation in which multiple well bores are drilled from a single surface location.

Q: What is an oil and gas lease?

A:

An Oil and Gas Lease is an agreement between a mineral owner and an exploration company granting exclusive rights to explore for and potentially produce hydrocarbons from a described area.

Q: What are mineral acres?

A:

Mineral acres are the amount of minerals one holds in a parcel of land. Some states allow for the separation of the surface and mineral estates. For example, should you own 40 acres of surface and 100% of the mineral rights, you would own 40 gross acres of surface and 40 net acres of minerals.

Q: If I own property, does that mean I own the minerals?

A:

Not necessarily. In some states, if you buy land and receive the mineral rights, this would usually be indicated in the warranty deed. Sometimes, minerals are reserved (not sold) by the seller, in which case, mineral reservations should also be noted in the deed. In other cases, you may have inherited the land and may only have a portion of the mineral rights due to a split estate with family members.

Q: What is the difference between leasing and selling mineral rights?

A:

Leasing means you are giving the O&G exploration company permission to explore and produce minerals from your property within the timeframe and stipulations included in the oil and gas lease, in which you will receive royalty payments if the well does produce. If you sell your minerals, you no longer have the right to lease those minerals or benefit from royalty payments.

Q: Why should I sign this lease if I only own less than 1 mineral acre? Is this worth it to me? Does the company even need this small a portion to drill?

A:

Yes, you should execute the lease. You will receive your proportionate share of the production from the well that is drilled should it produce. In most states, there are minimum unit sizes which are determined by the permitting agency. 100% of the mineral interest needs to be accounted for in order to drill and produce.

Q: How long does it take to drill a well?

A:

Most vertical wells can be drilled in 10 days or less. Horizontal wells may take up to a month or more. After drilling, it may take several weeks or more to complete the well in order for production to start. Reclamation work should take place shortly thereafter depending on weather conditions.

Q: Is drilling a well noisy and disruptive?

A:

While the well is being drilled, the rig must run 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the total depth is achieved. There will be noise from the equipment, light from the rig at night, and some temporary dust or mud from the well site. Once the drilling is completed, there will be some daylight-only operations to put the well into production, or to plug and abandon the well if it were found to be a dry hole. Upon restoration of the location, the surrounding area is restored.

Q: How do companies prevent contamination of my well water during the drilling process?

A:

There are processes that have been developed to protect groundwater during the drilling process. The Casing and Cementing Process is integral to well completion in regards to the protection of fresh water zones. Casing is hollow steel pipe that is used to line the wellbore. Cement is used to fill the hollow steel pipe. States regulate these processes to ensure proper cement mixtures and techniques are utilized so that there is no interaction between fresh water zones and production zones. Ultimately, by taking the proper safety measures and following regulatory procedures, companies work to avoid contamination at all costs. Just like you, operators realize the detriments of contamination and share the goal of developing your resources in a safe manner to maximize success for both parties.

Q: Can I still access my property all the time?

A:

During construction and drilling, you will not have access to the area of the well location or right-of-way. There may also be cases where portions of the property may be unreachable by vehicle for a short period of time. Outside of that, there should be nothing preventing you from complete access and enjoyment of your property.

Q: How will the mineral lease or ROW Easement affect my property?

A:

An Oil & Gas Lease allows for the exploration and/or production of hydrocarbons from the lands described within the document. A Right of Way Grant/Easement would allow for a pipeline, access road, or electrical utilities to be constructed. As to any “affect” on the property, should there be well located on the property or a pipeline constructed, there would be some surface disruption in the affected areas during the drilling or construction process, after which, all areas disturbed will be restored and reclaimed in accordance with the permits obtained and state regulation.

Q: After construction, how long will reclamation take?

A:

It depends on the types of permits and time of year in which construction occurs. We are sometimes constrained by permits to complete reclamation as quickly as possible – that permit dictates when and what standards reclamation is completed under. We are also constrained by weather – reclamation cannot take place during the winter or if it is wet / muddy.

Q: Will you keep me notified when work begins?

A:

If WLS is involved, we will work to notify you prior to staking of a well, any surveying work, construction, routing of a pipeline, or any seismic or other geophysical explorations on your property. However, there can be exceptions, depending on the operator or in an emergency.