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Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development
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Solar Above, Oil & Gas Below: Coexistence in Energy Project Development

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As you seek the optimal location for your solar project, you should be aware that the rights to subsurface minerals can dominate the use of surface lands even when there is a surface user conducting …

As you seek the optimal location for your solar project, you should be aware that the rights to subsurface minerals can dominate the use of surface lands even when there is a surface user conducting business over the mineral deposits. What do you know about the relative concerns and interaction between land surface rights and mineral rights? More importantly, what do you need to know?

Due to the ongoing explosion of oil and gas exploration within the United States, and Texas in particular, surface developments such as utility scale solar projects can encounter significant issues of relative concern. Listen to Randy Sowell and Greg Friend, two leading experts in this field, discuss the basics of the interactions between a mineral estate (oil and gas exploration) and surface estate (solar projects), and how this legal construct can influence solar development.

Although Texas is the focus of the webinar, reference will be made to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) development issues which primarily occur west of the Great Plains region of the US; significant because the BLM administers over 245 million surface acres of land and over 700 million acres of mineral estates within the United States.

First Greg and Randy will discuss relevant regulatory and policy issues and propose possible resolutions that attempt to allow both the oil and gas exploration outfit (mineral estate) and the solar project company (surface estate) to develop projects with reasonable legal and practical certainty.

Published in: Technology, Business
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  • 1. Principal Solar InstituteSolar Above, Oil and Gas Below:Coexistence In Energy Project DevelopmentRANDY SOWELLLionshare Advisory ServicesMcCamey, Texas(432) 301-0002lionsharers@hotmail.comGREGORY S. FRIENDStahl, Bernal & Davies, LLP.Austin, Texas(512) 652-2949gfriend@sbaustinlaw.comPrincipal Solar Institute
  • 2. Can’t We All Just Get Along?Principal Solar Institute
  • 3. What’s the Problem?
  • 4. Oh, right.
  • 5. Mineral estate is dominant estate, and has theright to utilize as much of the surface as isreasonably necessary to exploit mineralsbelow.Due regard and accommodation doctrine.AK, AR, CO, NM, ND, UT and WV alsorecognize the accommodation doctrine, andothers states have enacted specific surfacedamages statutes.Texas (and some other places) Law
  • 6. Solar Resource
  • 7. Oil and Gas
  • 8. Railroad Commission Rule 76Surface owner may request qualified subdivision.Qualified subdivision:– may not be > 640 acres– Located in• Counties with population > 400,000• Counties with population > 140,000 so long as itborders county with population > 400,000 or located onborder island.– “Operations site” for each 80 acres; 2 acres or >.– Road and pipeline easements.– Subdivided for residential, commercial or industrial use.
  • 9. Railroad Commission Rule 76 Surface owner files application; RRC provides hearing noticeto all possessory interest holders. RRC considers adequacy of number and location of operationssites and road and pipeline easements. If application granted, surface owner must begin constructionof roads or utilities and sell lot within 3 years. SWEPI v. RRC– Qualified subdivision for each 640.– Landfill satisfies “industrial use;” broad authority to RRC.
  • 10. Bureau of Land Management BLM administers surface estates and mineral estates onpublicly owned lands– 261 Million Surface Acres– 700 Million Mineral Acres• 58 Million are Split Estates BLM requires that the mineral lessee engage the SurfaceOwner in negotiations for the purpose of obtaining a surfaceuse agreement. BLM requires the lessee/operator make a good faith effort toobtain a surface use agreement.
  • 11. BLM - Split Estate Options Amend Resource Management Plan– Open or Closed to leasing; lease stipulations Mineral Conveyance– Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA)• Section 209 (b) – “may convey mineral interests ownedby the U.S. where the surface is in non-federalownership if ….1) There are no known mineral values in the land or2) The reservation of mineral rights is interfering with orprecluding appropriate non-mineral development of the landand that such development is a more beneficial use of theland.”3) Conveyance only to surface owner of record.
  • 12. QUESTIONS?
  • 13. Principal Solar InstituteSolar Above, Oil and Gas Below:Coexistence In Energy Project DevelopmentRANDY SOWELLLionshare Advisory ServicesMcCamey, Texas(432) 301-0002lionsharers@hotmail.comGREGORY S. FRIENDStahl, Bernal & Davies, LLP.Austin, Texas(512) 652-2949gfriend@sbaustinlaw.comPrincipal Solar Institute

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