In last week's Big 2 Energy Report, we introduced you to a Midland rancher who has been dealing with oil companies coming in and drilling on his land a lot lately. But unlike most ranchers, Adam Pollard is also a professional landman who's been working in the oil business since the age of 15. That said, he understands exactly what it takes to protect his property. As more and more surface owners in places like Gardendale deal with drilling on their land, Pollard has some advice to help them protect their property.
"Oil is king out here. It has been the livelihood, be it directly or indirectly, since the 30's," says Pollard.
And it seems as though the state of Texas would agree. Texas law has given mineral owners the upper-hand for years, allowing oil companies the right to drill to access their minerals. This leaves the people who own the land above those minerals with little say in the matter.
But it could actually be a lot worse. As a seasoned landman, Pollard has done work in 48 states across the U.S. He says the law in Texas is actually pretty flexible when compared to some states that leave no room for negotiation. That said, it's even more imperative that a surface owner understand the business. "The more knowledgeable or more prepared you are, the better negotiations you can have with those guys because it's not set in stone with the state. "
But this flexibility can also be a disadvantage. "It can also be a detriment if that guy thinks they are going to come out there and say....we'll just do this and we'll make it right with you. Those are dangerous words in this business."
But as we continue to see more rigs popping up in people's backyards, Pollard says the biggest concern won't be the drilling itself, but one of the most important resources used in the process. As a rancher who's land can produce a million gallons of water a day, Pollard says, "I actually think the biggest fight will be over water, and we gotta do what ever it takes to protect that water. (It takes) 5 million gallons to fracture one of these wells. That's a lot of water for a lot of people if it got bad around here."
At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is this. "You can't reclaim it once it's taken from you, so you have to be protected before it even starts. And if you see something you don't like, it becomes a negotiation."
Pollard also recommends getting legal representation. Although it's not cheap, he says a good attorney can help a surface owner negotiate with a drilling company before the damage is done.