Locate Your Mineral Rights
Use your legal description to locate your mineral rights on a map and check out active or past wells.
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How do I locate my minerals?
If you are like most people who inherit mineral rights , you have no idea where to start looking for information.
You might have inherited your minerals from a relative that kept poor records or perhaps you didn’t even know you owned mineral interest until a landman contacted you, wanting to lease your minerals.
Even if you inherited your mineral from a well-organized relative, the topic may be new and unfamiliar to you.
Let’s start by locating the legal description, which will help you find the property on an interactive map. Once you’ve found your property, you can explore the wells in which you own interest as well as the oil and gas activity in the surrounding area.
4 Steps to Locating Your Mineral Rights
New mineral owners often ask, “How do I found out about my mineral rights?”. You may have to locate your relative’s documents, but once you know the legal description, it’s fairly easy to locate the tract of land under which you own mineral rights and view the wells in a given lease. If you inherited mineral rights, you should be able to locate royalty statements, leases, division orders, and mineral deeds. These documents will help you figure out what you own and provide essential information to locating your mineral leases on a map.
1. Find Your Legal Description
3. View the Wells (if any)
Once you have located your minerals, you can see the wells on your property as well as the offset activity in nearby tracts of land.
Finding the Legal Description
A legal description is a way of describing the geographical location of a property’s boundaries and is used for real estate transactions, including oil & gas contracts. A legal description is not the same as a property address.
Legal descriptions vary from state to state and can differ greatly when referring to many acres of land or small urban lots.
How Do I Locate the Legal Description?
If you inherited an interest in a producing oil or gas lease, the legal description should be available by:
- Looking up your relative’s name on the county appraisal district’s website
- Viewing signed or proposed oil and gas leases or division orders
- Calling the company that sends royalty checks to ask for the legal description.
Each state’s regulatory agency uses a slightly different GIS viewer, but typically, you can look up a property using the legal description.
Image Description: Screenshot of a tract of land in Texas, showing older vertical oil wells with nearby horizontal wells.
Using a GIS Viewer
Each state’s regulatory agency uses a slightly different Graphical Information System (GIS) viewer. To find your state’s public GIS viewer, google “[your state] oil and gas GIS”. Or, if your property is located in the top 9 oil and gas producing states, you can find the GIS listed below.
Oil and Gas GIS Viewers all work in the same general way. There should be some way to search based on a combination of the county and the following information from your legal description. In many states, is this is called the Public Land Survey System (PLSS).
- Abstract (Texas)
Once you have located your inherited mineral rights, it’s easy to see which wells, if any, are located on your property and even the wells and drilling activity in the surrounding area.
You can even overlay this map with geology maps or drilling activity maps to see if your mineral rights are located in an active area.
Finding Your State’s Public GIS Map
If your state is not listed here, just google your state plus “oil and gas GIS”.
Free Mineral Management Spreadsheet
The first and most essential part of owning mineral rights is to know what you own. This should be well documented and organized in files and a spreadsheet.
Lower your risk by keeping title documents, leases, and division orders in a folder along with one royalty statement from each operator.
The details about your mineral rights, including land tracts, units, leases, wells, and division orders should be organized in a spreadsheet or mineral management software.
Want to know more about managing your mineral rights? We have video about the advantages of actively managing your minerals, what documents you should keep, how to organize your files, monthly royalty audits, evaluate mineral management software, and if it’s all too overwhelming, how to outsource the management of your mineral rights.
How We Value Mineral Rights
There are many factors that play into the value of mineral rights. These include location, producing vs. non-producing properties, current oil and gas prices, well production figures, lease terms, and even the operator of the well or wells. We also look at the risks of buying and owning minerals that you are interested in selling.
Minerals in the hottest shale plays are more valuable than those in older fields with conventional wells.
Producing vs. Non-Producing
Producing minerals are often worth more than non-producing minerals because they are generating revenue.
Oil & Gas Prices
When oil and gas prices drop, revenue drops, and sometimes operators are unable to continue operating the well.
Highly productive wells (and off-set wells) can increase the value of your minerals.
Favorable lease terms (such as a 25% royalty reservation) positively impact the value of the leased minerals.
A small number of operators are unethical, and their reputation automatically devalues your minerals.
Why People Sell Their Mineral Rights
I am putting my affairs in order. I don’t want to burden my kids with the hassle of transferring ownership and managing small mineral rights. When my sister passed away, my niece and nephew had to hire an attorney to help them with the minerals. I don’t want my kids to go through that.
I inherited my mineral rights so they were sentimental, but I don’t really want to bother with managing them and filing extra tax returns. I decided to sell and use the money as a down payment on my house.
I had no idea how fast the oil production would decline. My checks are only 20% of what they were a few years ago. I should have sold my mineral rights when the wells were brand new and still generating huge royalties.
My oil wells have been producing for decades and the reserves are almost depleted. Once the wells are plugged, the value will be significantly lower. I’d rather cash out now.
I inherited mineral rights, but don’t want to be involved with fracking and fossil fuels. I would prefer to support renewable energy and do my part to reverse climate change.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How Long does it take to sell my mineral rights?
It depends. We can often provide an offer within a few days and close in a week, but that depends where the minerals are located and how easy it is to verify a clean title. In some areas, records are online and we can move quickly. Other areas require that title records be sent via mail. In some cases there is a title defect that must be corrected before we can close.
The bottom line is that we try our best to close within a week or two. It rarely takes longer and sometimes, we can close in a matter of days – especaially in cases where the mineral owner is near death and the family needs to get the minerals out of their estate to avoide costly probate proceedings.
Do all mineral rights lose value over time?
Yes. Oil and gas are finite resources, and all petroleum reservoirs will eventually be depleted, some faster than others. Additional wells can temporarily increase royalty income. However, as technology advances and operators pull oil and gas from the ground faster, decline curves accelerate, shortening the productive life of a well.
Many mineral owners choose to sell their minerals while the value is still high. That money can be invested in other ways, used to improve your lifestyle (new car, new house, remodel, vacation, wedding, solar panels, or any number of other options).
What raises the value of my mineral rights?
The following factors will increase the value of your mineral rights:
- Clear title
- Permitted wells onsite
- Newer wells (but not too new)
- Flatter decline curve
- Favorable lease terms
- High oil and gas prices
- Operator with a good reputation
- Potential for additional wells
What lowers the value of my mineral rights?
Here are some of the following factors that can decrease the value of your mineral rights:
- Title Problems
- Non-producing minerals
- Property that is held by production (HBP) by low-producing wells
- Leases that hold excessive non-producing acreage
- Steep decline curves
- Poor offset production (for non-producing properties)
- Low oil and gas prices
Operator with a bad reputation
- Leases that allow operators to have free use of oil and gas
- Poor economy or recession
I'm not sure I want to sell everything. Can I sell part of my mineral rights?
Absolutely. You can sell any percentage of your mineral rights (it is common to sell 50%). You can even sell the royalty interest and keep your mineral interest. Selling only the royalty interest is a way to get a lump sum of money now and still keep the mineral interest in your family.