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What Landowners Need to Know About Oil & Gas Wells

Property Purchases in Areas with Known Oil & Gas Activity

If you are purchasing property in an area with known oil and gas activity, it is important to research and obtain as much information as possible:

  • Ask the seller about any unplugged oil or gas well(s) on the property. New York State Real Property Law (RPP 8- 242.3) states that a seller with knowledge of the existence of an unplugged gas well must disclose this information to the purchaser.
  • Consult with your attorney to review the property deed for oil and gas leases.
  • Check the Oil & Gas Searchable Database for nearby wells.
  • Review oil and gas well maps from the appropriate Division of Mineral Resources Regional office.

Undocumented orphan and abandoned wells may be encountered in areas of historical oil and gas activity. Please review Finding & Identifying Oil & Gas Wells for further information.

Self-Use Wells

Oil and gas companies may offer to sell or give a well to a landowner when the well is no longer productive enough for commercial purposes, but may produce enough gas to heat a residence. Although a gas well may be an economic asset, it may also represent significant financial and environmental liability. Such wells require periodic maintenance and servicing to remain productive and in compliance with Department rules and regulations. Please read about Well Operatorship Responsibilities for additional information.

Before well operatorship can be transferred, a Request for Transfer of Well Responsibilities must be approved by the Department.

Private Oil & Gas Leases

Landowners may be approached by oil and gas land agents (landmen) and offered private contracts called leases. Any lease should be carefully reviewed and negotiated by the landowner before it is signed. A Landowner's Guide to Oil & Gas Leasing and Gas Leasing Comments are provided for reference. As private leases are not subject to the Department's jurisdiction, an oil and gas attorney should be consulted for legal assistance.

The Compulsory Integration Process

The Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining Law provides a process to address land that is associated with a well, but is not controlled by the well operator through a lease or other type of voluntary agreement. This process provides the mineral rights owner with three choices, at three different risk levels, for potential compensation for oil or gas production if the well is successful. Read the Landowner's Guide to Compulsory Integration Options for more information.

More about What Landowners Need to Know About Oil & Gas Wells:

  • Landowner's Guide to Oil & Gas Leasing - Advice for landowners who have been approached to lease their property for oil and/or gas development.
  • Gas Leasing Comments - Facts about gas leasing and questions landowners can ask to evaluate some common misperceptions about the decision to lease.