Memo vs recorded easement

Hello all,

I am dealing with a ROW agent re: a long distance , 10 year renewable term, fresh water pipeline crossing a small segment of our land in Reeves county, TX.

I have done quite a few of these already, and was able to negotiate better. i.e., more restrictive, terms than were originally proposed. Not more money, just better, IMO. I have no problem with the language in the document

Since they are dealing with numerous landowners, some of them with quite large holdings, that apparently did not negotiate quite as well, they would rather not record the easement, rather they want to record a memo of the easement and keep the details out of it. Here is what they said:

Memos of Oil & Gas leases are filed all the time in those cases where the company (and often times the mineral owner) doesn't want to let the world see their lease form. The same thing applies to this waterline easement. All of the provisions we have negotiated remain and are binding. We would just be filing a Memo to let the public know of the existence of the agreement and the plat would be attached to make the location public knowledge. Thanks for your understanding.

I understand the reasoning and don't really have a problem with this approach, but I would appreciate an opinion from people with more legal and practical knowledge than I.

Thank you,


one voice against memorandums. The problem with memorandums is the original document setting forth the rights of both parties in the easement will, in all likelihood, get lost. Then, who knows what it says. If you're a buyer of the property, you're going to want to see the easement, but if the seller can't find it.

Further, pipelines typically sell out in a geographical area on a frequent basis.

Reply to my own reply. As pipelines typically and frequently sell their pipelines after a given number of years, they may also lose the easement.

BTW, this is also my argument against recording a memo of an ogl vs. recording the ogl. If the lessor or his family can't find the lease, how would one prove there was a depth clause or a pugh clause in the lease. If one thinks that the lease would never get lost, how many posters on this site can't find the deed into their relative or can't find the will that their parents executed, etc.

I agree on that one, the oil company may sell the lease, or go out of business, and there go the records...?? And, in a number, say 20 years, the family's lease records may be lost when a relative passes away, ( where did they put them??) and then you don't have anything much to go on. I don't like to see these memorandums filed either. I am glad the court house has the old records to look up!!

P.S. Kudos to the folks in the Burke County, ND records office, they have done a lot to help me out!!

Thank you for your post. I have frequently let them file a memo for the reasons stated above, and because we manage a lot of properties, I am pretty sure they will always be available when I or my successors need them. However, that is an excellent point, as the Pugh has become more significant in several of my leases, as well as no cost royalty language. I will fight that in the future.

Thanks for your quick input.

I agree that filing a memo for an O&G lease would not be a good idea, as we are still working with leases done 10-15 years ago, and I have just gone thru a "leadership" transition.

I am a bit more comfortable in this one, as it is a 10 year renewable term lease for a single water line, without much money or complications attached. I appreciate knowing that this happens pretty often as a routine event. We will have multiple, independent record holders involved.

I am inclined to go forward this way unless there are bigger landmines ahead.

If a memorandum will be filed, whether for an easement, oil and gas lease or other document, multiple originals should be signed by all parties (both lessor and lessee) so that everyone has an original in their files. It is not a good idea for a mineral owner or surface owner to be the sole signature on the underlying document that is then only in the possession of the other party. You should keep the original signed document and also a scanned pdf in your files.

Memorandums for easements are becoming more common, but I would make sure the term is in the memorandum, and if it has renewal options, the renewal price. The latter is hard to get pipeline companies to put in. I think the risk of the easement getting lost by both sides is pretty low, but gauge your situation. Is this a major transmission line that is part of a network of lines (low risk) versus a flowline or small regional distribution line with a company that will probably be out of existence in 10 years (higher risk). One suggestion - keep a signed copy of what you signed, and follow up and get a countersigned copy. Having an unsigned copy in your file 10 years from now may not be enough.