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Forced Pooling

One of the attorneys helping SAFE wrote this synopsis regarding the practice of forced pooling (forcing a landowner to submit to drilling activities in spite of the landowner’s objection) in Illinois:

Illinois statutes set out three scenarios in which a driller can drill on land despite the surface owner’s lack of consent:

(1) where there has been a complete severance of the mineral rights from the surface rights, (2) where the surface owner still owns some mineral rights but the land is the subject of a forced integration proceeding under the Oil and Gas Act. (3) where the surface owner still owns some mineral rights, some mineral rights are held in joint tenancy or tenancy in common, and owners of more than 50% of the mineral rights have obtained the authority to drill under the Oil and Gas Rights Act.

Under any of these scenarios, the Drilling Operations Act requires the driller to offer a lease to the nonconsenting surface owner but allows the driller to drill on the land even without the surface owner’s consent.

The three scenarios are set out in Section 3 of the Drilling Operations Act (765 ILCS 530/3), which states as follows:

“Sec. 3. This Act shall be applicable only for the drilling operations of new wells except as explicitly provided in paragraph (c) of Section 6. It shall not apply for reworking operations on a well. This Act shall be applicable only when the surface owner has not consented in writing to the drilling operations and: (A) there has been a complete severance of the ownership of the oil, gas, and coalbed methane from the ownership of the surface, or (B) where the surface owner owns an interest in the oil, gas, and coalbed methane, which interest is the subject of either: (1) An integration proceeding brought pursuant to “An Act in relation to oil, gas, coal, and other surface and underground resources and to repeal an Act herein named”, approved July 24, 1945, as amended, or (2) A proceeding brought pursuant to “An Act in relation to oil and gas interest in land”, approved July 1, 1939, as amended.”

The statutory reference in Section 3(B)(1) is to section 22.2 of the Oil and Gas Act (225 ILCS 725/22.2), and the statutory reference in Section 3(B)(2) is to the Oil and Gas Rights Act (765 ILCS 520/.01 et seq.).

The new method of horizontal hydraulic fracturing being proposed in Illinois will focus attention on the unfairness of these scenarios, in which surface owners could be forced to have drill pads on their land despite their lack of consent, like the Ramseys.  I am also attaching a letter to the editor recently published in the Mt. Vernon Sentinel on this issue. The letter writer, Dexter Edmison, is a former member of the Jefferson County Board and the Rend Lake College Board of Trustees.

Note: Nothing in this post, or in this website, constitutes professional legal advice.  Anyone with questions specifically about their situation is encouraged to seek out professional legal advice.

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