We have been hearing that fracking is about to begin on our area. Within the last day someone emailed us claiming that the ownership of the mineral rights belongs to someone else, that the office that tracked us down made a mistake. This is after 5 years of signing and renewing leases. Is this even possible or is it a potential scam? Need help.
Sometimes oil companies get title wrong and take a lease from someone who does not own the mineral rights. If you warranted title in your lease, they can get claw back the bonus they paid you. This is not an ideal situation to be in, but it is not necessarily a scam either. You will want to independently verify title to make sure the company contacting you is correct that you don't own the mineral rights. You should not agree to anything, sign any documents, or pay them any money without first consulting with a lawyer who can help you negotiate a settlement.
Assume it is a scam until you have 100% evidence. Keep in mind that documents can be falsified too.
Good luck!! Bob Malone, Malone Petroleum Consulting
Completely correct. Last year we ran into a title problem. Companies were contacting us to purchase our mineral rights inherited from a probate case. HOWEVER, those rights had been sold many years before by our parents and a search by a landman found the records so even courts can make mistakes. Bottom line, we collected royalties from the probate that dated before the sale but found that we no longer owned the mineral rights. In your case it could be a scam BUT I'd suggest that you get a reputable landman to search country records to see if you own the minerals rights or not. In Oklahoma I hired Ryan Story who did an excellent job and it still working for me on some other properties. He can be contacted through this forum, look in the "LANDMAN" drop down tab. If your minerals are outside of Oklahoma I'd suggest asking people in that area for a reputable landman as they are not all knowledgeable or honest. Hope that helps. And as Andrew said, don't sign anything or make any conclusions until you have some solid information.
Sometimes, a court case can be filed and a judgment entered that impacts the ownership. Then, inexplicably, it doesn't get recorded in the county land records. A diligent landman or title outfit finds it.
since this will impact your ownership, I would agree with the recommendation of hiring your own landman to get to the bottom of the situation.
Just to let everyone know, I am reading every reply and I greatly appreciate each one of them.
All of the replies thus far contain good information. I'll simply add that in locating/hiring counsel (whether a landman or an attorney) remember that it is local and state-specific knowledge that you want.