Surface owner rights - Education

If a company is buying up a vertical well and wanting to convert it to a horizontal well, is that a new contract entirely? Can they buy up a well and convert it as they wish? Can they move or expand the existing pad as they wish anywhere the property without regard to the surface owner? Does the surface rights holder have or get any say in this? Or do the mineral rights holders drive the show here?

The SURFACE owner has little recourse over the development of the mineral regardless the mineral status unless that "ingress/egress" position has been retained by the deed that the minerals were reserved under.

The mineral owner generally has no say so over the location of the well pads.

May I ask what you mean unless the ingress/egress has been retained by the deed that the minerals were reserved under. I assume you mean physical access ingress/egress. There is only one ingress/egress point on the property and can only be this one. Its a long and narrow landlocked property with only this narrow ingress/egress. It was the existing vertical well sites point of entry to the property and when I purchased the land and built my home on the land 15 yrs ago it became my driveway as well. Once on the property it veers off at a point to the existing small pad and continues to my house. Would they have to renegotiate with me for access at that point then if they are drilling a new well?

Thanks for the info and help in advance. This is a new ballgame to me.


The mineral owners rights have dominion over the surface owners. Been that way for centuries, seriously.

Generally, most vertical wells do not have the capability to be turned into horizontal wells. Ones that might be convertible would have to have been originally drilled pretty close to the vertical depth that the kick off point for the horizontal leg might be since the original bore hole and casing sizes must be large enough with enough metal stability to handle the new horizontal leg. It can be done, but not very common.

Also, generally, but not always, the horizontal pad would be close to a northern or southern lease line (unless there is a fault or surface feature that precludes that) to get the most horizontal perforations in a section. Some sections have a fault in the center part so they put pads on both sides of fault with one set of wells going north and one going south. Pretty rare.

Surface owners cut their own surface use lease with the operators which includes payments for damages to crops, surface water, types of methods for ditch digging for pipelines, etc.

Well pads usually start out about five acres and end up after everything is said and done at one acre or less. Needs to be a flat spot at least 200' away from any buildings and about that far from any water (depends upon the wording of the lease.)