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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
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A Guide to Split Estate in Oil and Gas Development


The State of Montana, like many western states, was granted property from the Federal government at statehood. This property consists of both mineral and surface estate, and is managed by the state to generate revenue to help fund public schools and other institutions. In Montana’s early years, considerable amounts of surface lands were sold, but the mineral ownership was retained by the state as required under Federal law.

One of the ways in which the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) generates school funding is through leasing these state-owned lands and mineral properties for oil & gas exploration and development.

It is important to note that the vast majority of oil and gas leases do not result in development. If exploration activity were proposed on a state oil and gas lease, our lessee would be in contact with the surface owner to coordinate and mitigate any proposed activities. The DNRC at that time would conduct an environmental review pursuant to the Montana Environmental Policy Act.

The Environmental Quality Council pursuant to House Bill 790 (Montana Legislature, 2005) created a brochure (see link below) summarizing HB 790, and is not a substitute for the complete laws and regulations.

A Guide to Split Estates in Oil & Gas Development (pdf)                                                                                                    

Our department maintains and can provide information about mineral property owned by the State of Montana. Similarly, the Federal Bureau of Land Management maintains information about federally-owned mineral property. Ownership information for privately-owned mineral property is maintained by the Clerk and Recorder's office in the county where the property is located.