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What landowners should know about mineral rights, leases

Posted May 20, 2014


North Carolina allows "split estates" or a tract that has different owners between the surface and the below-ground mineral rights.

The subsurface can be sold, like in any land transaction, by the original owner.

To make sure you own the mineral rights on your land, you will need to do some digging at your county Register of Deeds Office. Bring documentation such as the title deed or tax identification number for your parcel. Explain to the Register of Deeds staff what you need. Generally, you will want to search the history of all land transactions for your property.

To find a lawyer that specializes in split estates or title searches, contact the N.C. Bar Association's lawyer referral service at ncbar.org/public-pro-bono/lawyer-referral-service, or call 800-662-7660.


You can lease your oil and gas rights to a drilling company. In exchange, you are compensated based on the terms of a contract, usually offered by an agent for a gas company.

Most leases have one-time signing bonuses based on acreage and royalty payments typically based on the value of the gas or oil produced from the well. The industry standard is to pay at least 12.5 percent royalties.

Each gas lease is unique, and you may be able to negotiate better terms or more favorable amendments.

Sometimes, property owners who pool their land can collectively negotiate for better terms.

Public officials advise a property owner never to sign a gas lease without consulting a lawyer. They also suggest landowners consult their neighbors to make sure they are getting fair terms.

For more questions about mineral rights or leasing, call James Robinson with the Rural Advancement Foundation-USA in Pittsboro at 919-542-1396, ext. 209, or send email to james@rafiusa.org.


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