Full Title Search

We are having Title issues related to deeds that were signed in the 1950s, and which have never been resolved, Continental claims there remains a cloud on the ownership and will not pay until that cloud is removed. My attorney in North Dakota indicates that the only way to be sure that Continental is correct is to do a complete title opinion on the property. He can not give me a ballpark of how much this would cost to do. He further states that according to the history of the well and the amount of mineral acres in dispute the amount of royalties that we would be due may not justify spending a lot of money to clarify the title. He also stated though that just because there has not been a lot of drilling in the area does not mean that there could not be a lot of drilling in the area in the future. We have decided that we want to move forward but my attorney’s office is in Williston ND which is 50+ miles from the court house records in Watford City ND. Plus of course his hourly fee is pretty costly.

Can anyone recommend someone in Watford City ND that could complete the research of the records for our mineral ownership in Township 146 North, Range 98 West Sections: 10, 11 & 14 - McKenzie Co ND?

Thanks in advance!

The attorney giving you the advice seems to be on point. He would probably order an abstract if a full opinion will be requested, thus you would avoid being billed for time. His inability to provide an estimate is understandable as these can become very complicated. Given Watford’s population, I would suggest that you would be unlikely to find a qualified mineral title attorney there.

It’s close enough to Williston that you could/should be able to find someone qualified there

The first thing I would do is contact Continental and request a copy of the paragraph(s) in their title opinion that describe the cloud on title. Ask them what needs to be done to fix the title. That is the starting point. Then you can hire a landman to do the title search just on your particular issue since doing a full title search can be many thousands of dollars (and Certifled Petroleum landman fees are much less than an attorney). If the particular title search by the landman clarifies the issue, that may be the less expensive way to start. If not, then the full blown title opinion may be the next step. Continental has already done a full blown title opinion, so they are aware of what your particular issue is. Sometimes, clouds are fairly easy to fix and sometimes, you may not be happy with the answer as someone else actually owns the title.

Thanks for your input. Not sure that there is any specific document that I can request from Continental to clear this up. I probably did not list the issues clearly in my first post.

The issues are with the chain of title with deeds apparently from grantors who owned no mineral interests in all or some of the properties. I work in the loan department of a Bank & am familiar with clearing title to land/homes sold & purchased. I don’t understand how someone can purchase mineral rights and have the deed recorded only to be told later on that the person who they purchased them from didn’t actually own the mineral acres in the first place.

These Title Issues are specifically related to mineral ownership in: Township 146 North, Range 98 West Sections: 10, 11 & 14 - McKenzie Co ND The only drilling activity is in Section 11 and from what my attorney tells me the net income if recouped would be only about $8,000.00. The issues are related to the following deeds that were recorded in this order:

·#1: From Bennie and Junice Botner to John H. Mullaney conveying 30 mineral acres. (Continental claims the Botners had no mineral interests in section 11 which they could convey) #2: From John H. and Joyce Mullaney to Maurice R. Barnes conveying 20 mineral acres. (Contine ntal claims John H. Mullaney then owned no interest in section 11) #3: From Anton D. Kukla to John F. Mullaney conveying 10 mineral acres. (Continental claims Anton Kukla then owned no mineral interest in section 11) #4: From John Kukla to John F. Mullaney conveying 40 mineral acres. (Continental claims this deed was good) #5: Deed of Distribution from the John F. Mullaney estate to John H. Mullaney showing the conveyance of 50 mineral acres)

What Continental claims is that the first and only “good” conveyance of any mineral interests in section 11 came from John Kukla to my grandfather which later passed from his estate to my father. That would be the 40 mineral acre interest. Because of the warranty language, when my father inherited this interest it then made good his earlier conveyance Maurice R. Barnes leaving my father with 20 mineral acres. Continental is stating that they now require a stipulation of interest, or agreement, between this other owner & us as to who owns what mineral acres. Continental will not pay anything to either of us at this point.

My attorney in North Dakota indicates that the only way to be sure that Continental is correct is to do a complete title opinion on the property. This would include not only Section 11 where the drilling is occurring but also Sections 10 & 14. I feel that now is the best time to clear up title because the costs would be split evenly between the beneficiaries. In the end we may not recoup our cost of doing so but we will have peace of mind as to what, if any mineral acres we own in these sections. None of us will have out of pocket expenses. The cost will be offset my royalties coming in from other wells. The bottom line is that I’m just trying to decide whether I have the attorney physically research the records at the courthouse or hire a landman to do so. My attorney has experience in this so I may just go with him rather than stress anymore about it.