Do mineral rights expire?

When it comes to the question of whether your mineral rights will expire or terminate, the answer is dependent upon how you originally received the mineral interest, and whether prior conveyances of the land and/or minerals applied reservations or limiting language that affects your mineral rights. In other words, your mineral rights might be affected by conveyances to prior owners that were recorded many decades ago, but still limit your present mineral rights.

An example of how mineral rights can expire through deed language

Seller A sells his land to Buyer A, and includes language in the deed that whenever either the current oil or gas wells stop producing, or after a twenty year term, whichever comes first, Buyer A’s mineral rights will terminate and revert to Seller A. This reversion can happen at any time the production ceases (as defined in the deed), or if production doesn’t cease, no later than twenty years.

But a lot can happen as the years pass by. Buyer A subsequently sells to Buyer B, and doesn’t include any language in the deed about the minerals reverting to the original Seller A. Buyer B will still be subject to the reversion of the minerals that was established by Seller A., whether Buyer B was informed about the reversion or not.

In summary

If the minerals you presently own or that you are acquiring have sufficient value, it is important that you have an attorney or landman review the title history so that you can understand exactly what rights you actually own and any terms that would cause them to expire.

It should be noted that in Louisiana, the state law provides for mineral rights to revert to the surface owner ten years from the surface owner’s sale of all or a portion of those rights, or ten years from the termination of oil and gas production attributable to the property, whichever is later.

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