If there is a dispute about who own oil and gas rights, Pennsylvania courts may likely look to a deed to determine what the parties to the transaction intended. In Wright v. Misty Mountain Farm, LLC, 2015 Pa. Super 218 (Oct. 9, 2015), the Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed the issue of whether a married couple had retained Oil and Gas rights when they sold a property.
In 1950, the Buck family sold property to the Wright family. The deed included language stating that the Buck family “excepted and reserved” all rights in oil, gas and minerals “under Lease dated June 16, 1949”. After that lease expired, the Wright family (the buyers) treated the Oil and Gas as their own. They entered several Oil and Gas leases over the following years.
In 2010, a group of landowners (who owned the Buck family’s interest) filed a lawsuit to determine who owns the rights to the Oil and Gas. The appellate court determined that the Buck family effectively kept the Oil and Gas rights with the language that they used in the deed when they sold the property to the Wrights. According to the court, the fact that the Wrights treated the Oil and Gas as their own was “of no moment.”
This case demonstrates that each deed should be analyzed separately. If you have a question about a deed that relates to Oil and Gas rights, please contact Trent Echard, chair of Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky’s Oil & Gas Practice Group in Pittsburgh at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (412) 281-5423.