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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
Questions? Email us

For Mineral and Surface Owners


The following sections include information that may be helpful to land and mineral owners.  The portion of the website for oil and gas operators also includes information that land and mineral owners may find helpful.

Consultation with an attorney about leasing and royalty issues is recommended; however, should you have questions, contact the Board’s Billings office.

Guide to Split Estates

The Montana Environmental Quality Council has published an informational brochure on split estates.  A split estate occurs when the mineral estate is owned by someone other than the surface owner.  This brochure provides an overview of what an oil and gas developer must do and what options exist for the surface owner.  Most requirements are the same even if surface and mineral ownership are the same. The brochure is available here.

Required Notice for New Wells

Notice requirements that must be met before wells are permitted or drilled exist in both rule and statute.  Because of notice, it is not uncommon for surface owners and other owners near a proposed well to be aware of planned drilling activity long before an application for permit to drill (APD) is submitted to the Board.

 

  • An application for permit to drill must include a well location plat prepared by a registered land surveyor.  A land surveyor must give 15-days’ notice to a surface owner prior to entering the property to conduct a survey (§ 70-16-111, MCA).  This notice may be waived or may be made in conjunction with a separate required notice.    

  • Notice must be given to the surface owner no fewer than 20 days and no more than 180 days prior to activity that disturbs the surface (§ 82-10-503, MCA). 

  • For wells drilled outside the boundary of delineated fields, notice of the proposed drilling activity must be published in a Helena newspaper and a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the well is to be located (ARM 36.22.601).  Publication must be made no fewer than ten days before an application for permit to drill can be approved.  A protest of an application can be filed, and the requirements for protest are set forth in paragraph six of the rule.  If a protest is received, the application for permit to drill will be considered at the next available Board hearing.

  • Notice of an application for permit to drill must be given to all owners of record of occupied structures located within 1320 feet of a proposed well (ARM 36.22.620).  A protest of an application can be filed with the board, and the requirements for protest are set forth in paragraph five of the rule.  If a protest is received, the application for permit to drill will be considered at the next available Board hearing.

 

If you have any questions related to notice requirements, the APD process, or about protest procedures contact the Billings office.

 

A resource for monitoring pending drilling permits for wells located outside of delineated fields – including those that may not have been formally filed with the Board – is the public notice website maintained by the Montana Newspaper Association, which can be viewed at http://www.mtpublicnotices.com/mna/legals/.  An appropriate search criterion can return public notices related to oil and gas permits or upcoming Board hearings.  Example of a general search string for all noticed board action is "Montana Board of Oil and Gas" (including the quotation marks).

Surface Owner Damage and Disruption Compensation

Compensation for damages incurred during oil and gas drilling and completion operations is regulated under § 82-10-5, MCA.  These include sections on the requirement for compensation and dispute resolution if acceptable agreements cannot be reached.

Royalty Payments

§ 82-10-1, MCA includes the requirements for the payment to royalty interest owners entitled to payment from a producing oil or gas well.  Sections of the statute cover the obligation to pay royalties, what must be included in a royalty statement, the requirement for payment of interest on late payments, and directs that resolution for failure is to be pursued in district court.

Contacting Board or Staff, Board Meetings

Questions related to oil and gas exploration and development or issues that land or royalty can be directed to the Board’s Billings office.  If the question involves matters outside the Board’s jurisdiction, staff will attempt to direct the caller to the appropriate company, agency, or individuals.

Comments can be made directly to the Board at its regularly scheduled meetings.  The schedule is available on the hearing information section of the website.  It is best for general concerns to be presented during the public comment period at the business meeting.  Business meetings are the Wednesday prior to the more formal hearing on Thursday.  The published meeting agenda includes matters to be discussed at both the business meeting and the hearing.  The dockets can be found here.

 

If the matter of interest is scheduled for the Thursday hearing and appears on the published hearing docket, those who wish to comment must be present when the docket is heard.  As applications are announced at the hearing, a request for identification of anyone who intends to protest or comment on an application will be made.  Under the formal hearing procedures, protestants may be subject to cross examination, and all comments will become part of the formal hearing record.  Additional information about Board hearings is also available under the Operator section of this page.

 

Written statements are not evidence if the writer is not available to testify. 

 

If a land or mineral owner comes to a hearing and is unfamiliar with the hearing process or schedule, contact a staff member before the start of the hearing. 

 

Questions about either docketed or un-docketed matters prior to a hearing should be directed to the Billings office.