Mineral Ownership in Tyler County WV

My dad was contacted by a company Ascent (who has gone out of business since) and now is Tribune also Marcellus I believe. He signed a lease in 2016 or 17 for a royalty of 14%. He has not received a dime. It shows the wells have been active since 2002. We later found out on a separate piece of property oil is being extracted as well since 2004. I am not sure or aware of any leases signed from prior relatives who have passed. (Again we just found out abt all of this in 2016.)

My dad has paperwork and documentation stating he has 98.9 acres in Tyler county and all mineral rights have been passed down to the living heirs. Which would be my dad. We are being told by Tribune he has a fraction or partial ownership on this one well.

So my question is if it was my great great great grandfather who had sole ownership of the farm it currently sits (mineral rights only) how is it we only have a fraction. It’s been passed down within the family and my dad is the oldest living heir. Also we are not aware of any leases signed prior to 2016 and drilling has been going on since 2002. No royalties have been paid ever.

Can someone please provide any feedback? We would also like to find some resources to show amounts of oil and gas extracted. I have the parcel numbers and would like educated as to how he would only own a fraction of mineral rights. We are seriously considering contacting an attorney. I have tried contacting Tribune for answers and can’t get anyone to answer. Thanks!

Welcome to the community David!

I’m assuming the property is in Texas. If not, the same general rules will apply.

In order to be paid royalties, each mineral owner’s interest must be evidenced by a title document in the county deed records. Usually, the title document is a deed but it can also be another recognized title document, such as an affidavit of heirship or filing of a will as a muniment of title. Unless each mineral owner from your great great-great-grandfather forward to the last deceased owner had a will, that will was probated, an executor was appointed and the executor prepared and filed a mineral deed from the decedent to the beneficiaries of the will, or unless some other title document allowed by law, such as an affidavit of heirship, was filed for each generation, your father’s mineral interest may not be showing up in the deed records.

Unfortunately, it is not the oil company’s obligation to look for you. Instead, it is each mineral owner’s obligation to make sure their mineral title is clear and to make sure the oil company has a correct address.

If there are no executor’s deeds or other title documents for your the interest of your great great-great-grandfather and each owner since his time in the deed records, then the interest will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. In Texas, these can be found in the Texas Estates Code, Section 201.001 through 201.003. Most states will have similar statutes. When mineral interests are passed down through several generations via intestate succession, (or even through a will) they can become highly fractionalized. It may be that this is why your father’s interest is a percentage interest. For example, your great great great grandfather’s spouse and children would each get a share of his interests, and then those children’s children would get a share and then those children’s children’s children would get a share and so on.

You may want to first contact the current oil company and ask them to look under the names of your great great great grandfather and each of his heirs. You can then ask them what you need to correct any title defects. It may be something as simple as the lack of a current address, or they may show title defects that prevent payment of royalties. If they cannot or will not help you, you may need to contact an attorney who can order a mineral title search and determine what needs to be done to get the mineral interests into the names of the current heirs so that they can be paid royalties.

As far as what amounts of oil and gas have been extracted, most states have state agencies that will have this information indexed by both the operator name and the well.

Finally, you may want to check with the relevant state agency for any escheated royalties in the name of your great great great grandfather and each of his heirs. In Texas, that would be the Texas Comptroller.

Best of luck to you!

DavidMcintyre42,

Welcome!

Here is a link to the WVDEP: https://dep.wv.gov/oil-and-gas/databaseinfo/Pages/OGD.aspx. In the middle of the page is a link to the well database. On the left is a link to the WVDEP well mapping. I would suggest finding the property with the mapping and writing down all of the wells with laterals within or near the boundaries. Using that information, you can find out production records from the well database. You can also use WVGES to find out some of the same information (and sometimes more) that is presented in a different way.

There have been a lot of times that I have seen multiple opinions on ownership here in WV.

Aside from different ownership opinions, most wells completed in the Marcellus formation are pooled into units that are typically comprised of many mineral owners. I have seen units range from 100 to 1,000 acres. So it was likely that Tribune meant that your dad had fractional ownership of a unit instead of a fractional ownership in a parcel.

Hopefully this helps! ~Rachel

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Thank you for all the information ladies I really appreciate it!