Turn to page 4 of the “Early November 2010” issue of the Fullerton Observer and you’ll be scared into thinking that a gas or oil company is about to start drilling in your own backyard.
“This means that an oil production company that owns mineral rights to a piece of land, like Chevron, can do anything it wishes, even right in your back yard, and no government agency will step in to protect you.” No, that is not true.
The problems with the blog-like article are many but let me cut to the chase and give you a piece of valuable advice that I might otherwise charge you a few hundred dollars an hour for.
When you by real property, a.k.a. land, you are given a deed which contains the legal description of the property you are receiving. Most
Fullerton deeds are simple lot and block descriptions such as “ Lot 4, Tract 1234, filed in book 5 at page 2, Miscellaneous Maps of Orange County.” Some are a little more complex and use a system of metes and bounds to describe the property boundary. That description is generally predicated by a caption which might read “In the City of Fullerton, County of Orange, State of , more particularly described as…” The last portion of the legal description contains modifiers and qualifiers. For example, the deed may have as a qualifier, “Except therefrom that portion conveyed to John Smith by deed dated January 10, 1910 and recorded in book…” California
When it comes to mineral and other rights, look to the qualifier at the end of the description to read what you were granted and, more importantly, what you were NOT granted. Remember, someone can only grant to you that which they posses title to. Therefore, if the grantor, the person selling the property, does not have oil rights, then they cannot grant you oil rights. The same is true with water rights and other mineral rights.
Most qualifiers that except out mineral rights from a grant deed refer back to a parent document, often the initial grant deed for the parent parcel. Therein lies the terms of the mineral rights which MAY include rights of ingress and egress. It may also specify that there is NO right to access said minerals from the surface of the junior parcel. Therefore, Texaco may not have any right to use the surface of your property.
Subdivision maps that carve up the parent parcel usually include something like this:
Typical acknowledgement of mineral rights reserved by third party on a subdivision map.