|(a) The following words and terms, when used in this section,
shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.
(1) Minerals--Oil and/or gas.
(2) Operations site--A surface area of two or more acres that
an owner of a possessory mineral interest may use to explore for and produce
minerals, which is located in whole or in part within a qualified subdivision,
and designated on the subdivision plat.
(3) Possessory mineral interest--A mineral interest that includes
the right to use the land surface for exploration and production of minerals.
(4) Qualified subdivision--A tract of land not more than 640
(A) that is located in a county having a population in excess
of 400,000, or in a county having a population in excess of 140,000 that borders
a county having a population in excess of 400,000 or located on a barrier
(B) that has been subdivided in a manner authorized by law
by the surface owners for residential, commercial, or industrial use; and
(C) that contains an operations site for each separate 80 acres
within the 640-acre tract and provisions for road and pipeline easements to
allow use of the operations sites.
(5) Barrier island--An island bordering on the Gulf of Mexico
and entirely surrounded by water.
(b) As provided in subsections (e) and (f) of this section,
the surface owners of a parcel of land may restrict use of the surface by
the possessory mineral owners if the tract is a qualified subdivision and
if a plat of the subdivision has been approved by the Railroad Commission
after notice and hearing and filed with the clerk of the county in which the
qualified subdivision is to be located.
(c) An application for a hearing under this section must be
made in writing and mailed or delivered to the director of the Oil and Gas
Division. The application must include:
(1) a jurisdictional statement setting out the facts stated
in subsection (a)(4)(A) and (B) of this section;
(2) a statement that the applicant has authority to represent
and represents all surface owners of land contained in the proposed qualified
(3) the names and addresses of all owners of possessory mineral
interests and all mineral lessors of land contained in the proposed qualified
(4) a plat of the proposed subdivision showing each proposed
80-acre tract with its operations site, road easements, and pipeline easements
and a legible copy thereof no larger than 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches;
(5) a concise description of mineral development in the area,
including the number of oil and/or gas wells within 2.5 miles of the boundary
of the proposed qualified subdivision and the depths at which each well is
(6) a list of all the Railroad Commission designated oil and/or
gas fields, if any, which underlie the proposed qualified subdivision; including
the spacing and density requirements. If no Railroad Commission designated
fields underlie the qualified subdivision, the application should so state.
(d) The Railroad Commission shall, on proper notice to the
applicant and owners of possessory mineral interests and mineral lessors of
land contained in the proposed qualified subdivision, hold a hearing on the
application to determine the adequacy of the number and location of operations
sites and road and pipeline easements. At the hearing on the application,
evidence may be presented by the applicant and the owners of possessory mineral
interests and mineral lessors. The applicant must carry the burden of proof.
After considering the evidence, the commission may approve, reject, or amend
the application to ensure that the mineral resources of the subdivision may
be fully and effectively developed.
(e) An owner of a possessory mineral interest within a Railroad
Commission approved qualified subdivision may use only the surface contained
in designated operations sites for exploration, development, and production
of minerals and only the designated easements as necessary to adequately use
the operations sites.
(f) The owner of the possessory mineral interest may drill
wells or extend well bores from an operations site or from a site outside
of the qualified subdivision to bottomhole locations vertically beneath the
surface of parts of the qualified subdivision other than the operation sites.
Such drilling is subject to other applicable commission rules and regulations,
and is permissible only to the extent that the operations do not unreasonably
interfere with the use of the surface of the qualified subdivision outside
the operations site.
(g) Subsections (e) and (f) of this section cease to apply
to a subdivision if, by the third anniversary of the date on which the order
of the commission becomes final:
(1) the surface owner has not commenced actual construction
of roads or utilities within the qualified subdivision; and
(2) a lot within the qualified subdivision has not been sold
to a third party.
(h) All or any portion of a qualified subdivision may be amended,
replatted, or abandoned by the surface owner. An amendment or replat, however,
may not alter, diminish, or impair the usefulness of an operations site or
appurtenant road or pipeline easement unless the amendment or replat is approved
by the commission. Railroad Commission approval of a replat or amendment may
be administratively granted by the director of the Oil and Gas Division, or
his delegate, upon submission of items required in subsection (c) of this
section and after notice and opportunity for hearing has been afforded to
all possessory mineral interest owners and mineral lessors of land contained
within the original and/or replatted or amended qualified subdivision.