My wife and I manage an agricultural LLC. We have been approached to sign a mineral lease for a small portion of our land. We are considering whether we should separate the surface rights from the subsurface and mineral rights on the land that the oil company desires, largely to prevent our entire LLC from being vulnerable to liability and to assist in estate planning. We would transfer the subsurface and mineral rights into a separate LLC. If we do so, should we have two leases with the oil company, one that covers the surface and one that covers the subsurface and mineral rights?
I would definately have two seperate leases, one for the minerals and one for the surface. I believe this somewhat customary in a situation like yours. You may want to do some homework on the surface lease in regards to damages, etc. which could occur during the drilling operation. Pay particular attention as to the type of access to the drill site, road material and entrances, etc. During extremely wet weather conditions, truck traffic can cause a muddy mess on surface locations if an adequete road is not constructed.