University of Kansas Law Review
Mineral deeds present a list of perennial interpretative problems, which create uncertainty about ownership rights in mineral estates and the proceeds from the sale of oil and gas production. Consequently, the following issues arise: (1) deeds with conflicting fractions; (2) the “mineral or royalty” question; (3) the application of the common law “rule against perpetuities” to non-participating royalties, a common interest in the oil patch; (4) the meaning of “minerals”—does it include oil and gas?; (5) the executive’s duty to lease; and (6) deed interpretation versus “reformation.”
States with long histories of production and case law have grappled with several of these issues, providing answers for some and confusion regarding others. To promote consistency, courts should adopt rules that embrace the goal of ensuring title stability by rejecting rules that require scrutiny of extraneous evidence and that motivate strained interpretations. In addition to providing guidance to courts, certain cases provide valuable drafting lessons about perennial issues in oil, gas and mineral deeds.
Laura H. Burney, Oil, Gas, and Mineral Titles: Resolving Perennial Problems in the Shale Era, 62 U. Kan. L. Rev. 97 (2013).