Friday, October 24, 2008

Oil and Gas Leases: Know Your Rights

With the discovery of a large natural gas deposit in the Southern part of New York State, many property owners are being approached by energy companies looking to lease natural gas and mineral rights on area lands.

According to the Ithaca Journal, representatives of the New York State Attorney General and the Chemung County Farm Bureau recently cautioned that anyone considering leasing their property for natural gas exploration should know their rights:
The details of leases signed between landowners and gas companies are seemingly endless. They touch on everything from surface land-use to royalty and bonus payments or anything else landowners may want to include in their lease.

None of the leases pertaining to natural gas drilling and exploration are standard or non-negotiable, Michael Danaher, an assistant state attorney general from the Binghamton office, said. And negotiations don't pertain solely to bonus and royalty payments.

A landowner may want to negotiate a clause that requires the gas company to check the quality and quantity of the landowner's water [for example].

Ultimately, both presenters indicated the most important thing to do before signing a lease of this kind was to consult a lawyer:
Obtaining the services of an attorney familiar with leasing and knowing that all land leases are negotiable are the most basic steps in protecting property, they said, and that knowledge can be useful if a company land agent comes knocking.