For those owning minerals in Oklahoma, “Forced Pooling” may be an issue that has either been encountered or soon will be. Forced Pooling is an action backed by state law in which mineral owners that are either not yet leased, or are unable to be located, will be “forced” to either participate in the well by paying their proportionate expenses based on respective ownership, or, alternatively, may elect to take different bonus/royalty options based on the lease market around your mineral tract.
This may not seem very fair, but oil and gas laws in Oklahoma are aimed at efficiency, conservation, and preservation. If 99% of mineral owners in a particular area of drilling interest are leased or located, but 1% decide they want to hold out, it doesn’t make sense to halt drilling operations simply because a few owners won’t “sell the farm.” Further, the “correlative rights” doctrine, in oil and gas terms, limits one mineral owner (or, for example, the 99%) from negligently wasting or draining those minerals or negligently infringing on the rights of the other mineral owners in the area (or, perhaps, the undecided 1%). Essentially, in order for an oil and gas company to develop an area and begin to drill, everyone with a mineral interest must be on board, whether voluntarily or by being “forced” to do so. There are some ways to defend against Forced Pooling, but most will have to be argued on a case-by-case basis.
A good place to start for some general information regarding Pooling is the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s website. Their website also contains this FAQ, but the information is fairly limited. If you or someone you know have received a letter concerning Force Pooling, or if you have any other specific questions about your particular Pooling situation, don’t hesitate to call the Hartsfield & Egbert Law Firm at (405) 285-6858, or visit our website and ask a question in the comment box. We’ll be happy to describe the process and make sure you get the best deal for you.