Effective May 8, 2012, Utah enacted the Surface Owner Protection Act, known as S.B. 77, as Utah Code Ann. § 40-6-20 and § 40-6-21 (the “Act”). The Act has been in the works for several years, with several failed attempts at passage. The purpose of the Act was to resolve tensions between split estate owners (we’ll define that below!) This series of posts will explain how split estate works, the legal limits of mineral development in Utah, and proper negotiation of oil and gas leases and surface use agreements.
This is a big subject, so we are going to break it out into several posts. To start, let’s talk about split estate and how to figure out the mineral ownership on a tract.