The pipeline company wants to issue a quit claim deed for the buried pipeline which they say has been capped and purged and is safe to leave in ground. The right of way agreement states the Grantee shall upon termination of the lease agreement, restore the Grantors property to its original condition. Can I make them remove the pipe? I am concerned now about liability issues of that pipe being left in the ground. Also It will have a diminishing effect on price if and when I decide to sell in the future. What alternatives do I have? Any help would be appreciated. Thank You
Derrick: it’s possible the easement requires the company to remove the pipeline, but it’s not possible to answer your question accurately without reading the exact language in the easement. You may want to have an attorney in the state where the pipeline is located take a quick look at the easement for you. Most of the easements I’ve reviewed for clients in Texas have language elsewhere in the easement that says that the company can remove the line or flush and leave in place at the pipeline company’s option. Depending on the entirety of the language in your easement, the restoration language may apply to the surface only.
I could be wrong, but I suspect if the pipeline company had the right, by virtue of the language in the easement or by virtue of statute, to abandon the pipeline in place, they wouldn’t request the surface owner to accept a quitclaim of the buried pipeline. The pipeline company would just “go away”.
The pipeline company gets something of value by quitclaiming to the surface owner; however, the surface owner gets nothing, and to some degree assumes a liability, albeit remote. Both parties should get some benefit.
That said, perhaps you would prefer that the ground is not disturbed to any degree by the removal process. Maybe that is your benefit to allowing the pipeline to be abandoned in place.
The pipeline company can simply file a release or quit claim of the ROW on its own. That by itself should not relieve the pipeline company of liability for the pipeline remaining in place. However, if you are being asked to sign the document, then you need to have it reviewed by an attorney to make sure that you are not assuming any liability for the pipeline. A statement from a company that the abandoned pipeline has been properly cleaned and sealed may or may not be accurate and those standards could change in the future.
In Oklahoma where the pipeline is located, you would think there is a filing procedure involved and a inspection of the pipe when capped and purged to make sure it was done properly. I would think this would then be sent to the landowner when approved. Without that document a landowner is assuming it was done.
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