Why should I hire a lawyer in a surface rights dispute?
A lawyer will ensure that a landowner is fully informed of their rights in dealing with those who seek access to land, such as energy companies. There is often a large power imbalance when a landowner is approached by a land agent. Having an experienced Surface Rights team on your side will help bring balance to the negotiation.
What are the legal fees like if I hire you?
KMSC Law does not charge landowners for representation in most surface rights disputes – we often obtain recovery of all our fees from the operator seeking access to your land.
What is the Surface Rights Board?
The Surface Rights Board is a quasi-judicial tribunal (established by the Surface Rights Act) that grants right of entry orders and assists landowners and operators in disputes about compensation, access to land, damages to adjacent land or livestock or recovery of rental payments not paid by operators.
What is a Land Agent?
A land agent is a person who negotiates surface rights on behalf of the agent’s principal, which is usually an oil company, power company or the government. Negotiations may pertain to highways and roads, facilities, pipelines, transmission lines or oilfield lease sites. Land agents are fully authorized to enter into binding agreements with the landowner on behalf of their principal. You should carefully consider any proposal by a land agent – they have the best interests of their principal at heart, not you.
How can I renegotiate my lease?
Landowners with existing leases or Surface Rights Board Orders have a right to a compensation review every 5 years. Landowners also have a right to representation. Contact the KMSC Law team today for more information on receiving fair compensation for the use of your land.
What does compensation review look like if I hire you?
If you hire us to represent you, KMSC Law will first approach the company operating on your land to initiate negotiations. If no satisfactory agreement is reached, we will commence an application to review compensation.
What is a surface lease?
Since the provincial government owns most subsurface mineral rights in the province, oil companies obtain mineral leases directly from the government. But it is the landowner, not the government, that owns the land above the minerals. This means that oil companies need landowner consent prior to entering onto the land and commencing operations. Consent is obtained either by signing a surface lease or getting a Right of Entry Order from the Surface Rights Board.
Can I withhold consent to sign a surface lease?
You can for a time, but in Alberta, if a company wants access to your land to extract minerals, they almost always eventually obtain it. This does not mean negotiating agreements is futile – there are many ways you can increase rental payments or impose conditions on a surface lease.
What is a Right of Entry Order?
A Right of Entry Order is issued by the Surface Rights Board of Alberta. Unlike some standard form lease agreements, a Right of Entry Order is always reviewable.
What is an easement?
An easement is a legal interest in someone’s property that gives the holder the right to use the property for a specified purpose. Easements are common with transmission line right of ways, where a utility company wants access to a strip of land in order to construct, operate and maintain a transmission line.
What can I do about an abandoned well on my land?
A landowner with an abandoned well on their land will eventually receive an information package from the Orphan Well Association (OWA). This package will indicate that there is a well or facility on their property that has been assigned to the OWA for decommissioning, reclamation or both. The package contains information about the OWA, the well or facility site, a landowner feedback form and a self-addressed stamped envelope. Often weeds will grow on abandoned leases, a landowner should notify the OWA and AER if weeds become an issue.
There is an abandoned well on my land and surface payments are outstanding. What can I do?
Provincial legislation requires the Provincial Treasurer to pay rent on existing leases if the operator becomes insolvent. To receive outstanding payments, a landowner must apply to the Surface Rights Board. This is also why it is important landowners do not sign a voluntary rental payment reduction if approached by an operator or land agent.