Old oil leases

I have a lot of old oil leases that are no longer in effect. Is it advisable to keep these and, if so, for how long, or is it safe to shred them? I also have drawers full of papers filed in court clerk offices notifying me of various hearings on increased densities, horizontal well drillings, etc. Are these necessary to keep?

Thanks for any insights you may have on theses subjects.

I would like to be included in the responses to this question. I, too, have kept Hearing notices and old leases and would like to know if I should dispose of them. Thank you.

Hi Janice, Hi Carolyn!

I've been shuffling papers and researching documents regarding oil and gas properties for going on 40 years and can tell you that every time I throw something away, within a matter of days I need it.

So, my advice is to never throw any of it away - not even your hand scribbled notes.

Keep it as organized as you can chronologically, per property. I have seen those heavy cardboard folders with the two-hole punch metal tines used to do so many times. Just put the oldest document in first and the most recent at the top. When something new comes in, it goes on top.

Your heirs may need something you think of as obscure or out of date to prove ownership or even just to identify a tract of land.

Hope this helps -

Charles Emery Tooke III

Certified Professional Landman

Fort Worth, Texas

Thank you for the advice. I guess I need to do some organizing. But is it necessary to keep all those papers from the courts? Maybe so.

I agree with Charles, but I would go another step. For old leases, etc, consider scanning them and saving to thumb drives or dvd. Store them off-site in case of a disaster. If you scan carefully, and remember where you saved the drive, you can probably destroy the paper. Most law firms are doing this, but it does take a careful approach to indexing them so you can find them.


Storage Drives are not designed to last forever. I know that a CD will deteriorate inside of 10 years, a DVD perhaps a little longer.

A Thumb Drive may last substantially longer than either of those, but it too will eventually deteriorate.

Paper, properly stored, will last for years and years and years. I know from that because I've been researching County and District Records for going on 40 years.

Here in Texas, those records go back to before the Revolution in 1836. In the Original 13 Colonies, they go back to something like the 1500's.

Besides, Janice and Carolyn's records might (probably) contain original Deeds and other important title records.

Janice and Carolyn, if you want to keep it simple just stuff everything you have to date in a box, keep it in a dry storage area away from bugs and direct sunlight and start keeping thing organized from this point forward.

You can scan them if you want, but my vote remains to never destroy paper records.

Everyone enjoy their weekend. Hope you team wins!

Thank you for all your input! Scanning would be a good backup, but my scanner doesn't do legal paper which makes it a bit more difficult. I guess I'll keep all the paper and move forward from here.

I couldn’t resist responding to this one. I’m in total agreement with Mr. Charles Emery Tooke III. Having been a court reporter now for 41 years, I vote for paper records. By law, I have to keep criminal records for 15 years. Having been through various modes of media, you just can’t count on anything like your paper records. Not only does the media type change over the years, but what reads it does, too. I’m from the days of carbon copies, folks, so I’ve seen it all. Remember cassette tapes? When was the last time you played one? And can you find your cassette player today? I can. I’m just saying, being able to put your finger on your paper document is priceless. Don’t count on anyone else being able to find it after they’ve scanned it into their system and-- oops, guess we missed that one, or spilt our coffee on it right before scanning… Linton

Oh, forgot to mention, you can scan with your phone, even legal size. I use an app called tiny scanner, but there are many out there. But, for me, after I scan that puppy, I’m throwing it in my big box like Charles talked about… Linton

I've been there.

You have to make reduced copies of all of your documents (legal to letter) and then scan those. On top of that, most Letter Sized Only Units are only Flatbed - no Multi-Page Feeder.

Painful process.

If you have a larger than An Average Bear's amount of records, for about $300 - $400 you can buy a Brother All-In-One that has both a LEDGER Sized Flatbed surface and an up to Ledger sized 50 page Document Feeder.

A wise investment.

The one thing to remember is that whatever you use, they all appear to be set to a default setting of Color at 1200 DPI. That's WAAY larger a file than what you will ever need.

Reset whatever you use to Black and White and to 200 DPI. Maps and other pages within documents with colors in them, set to Color and scan them in individually, but also use 200 DPI.

At 200 DPI, you can attach and send dozens upon dozens of documents in a single, standard, 25 MB email.

Scanned in at 1200 DPI, I can't send more than a single document. Sometimes not even a single page.

Hope this helps -

Thank you so much for your response and I plan to do as you say. Organizing is timely, but I like knowing exactly where it is.

Thank you also. It's comforting to have this information.