Does your land property gives you the right to anything below your property like an oil reserve? I am wondering if the state has the rights to it, or you have the rights to it in the United States. I am also wondering if you can only claim the part directly under it or it works in some other way. Also, does it make a difference if your land covers the entire oil under your land or not?

  • 3
    Unless you're specifically asking about federal law, asking about "in the United States" is almost always too broad. You can't even say that the entire US is based on the common-law tradition. Aug 4, 2021 at 1:46
  • In Hawaii, ALL mineral rights are reserved to the state gov't Aug 4, 2021 at 16:38

2 Answers 2


That is going to depend on the deed. In some cases a deed will include both surface rights and mineral rights. In other cases mineral rights are owned by some different entity, or by the state.

If someone else owns the mineral rights, they can exploit those without the permission of the surface owner, and in some jurisdictions at lest they have a right to come onto the property and dig or drill there, even against the surface owner's wishes. In the US that varies by state, and also by the terms of the deed.

If the surface owner also owners mineral rights, no one can dig ir drill from that land without permission, but I am not sure on the rules for 'slant digging".

  • Slant or off set drilling and production is generally legal in the US. It is rare for a surface deed to include mineral rights in TX. The mineral rights generally belong to the previous owner of the surface , generally not the state. Aug 4, 2021 at 0:50
  • A number of states allow "forced pooling" for oil and gas. Because of well-spacing requirements, the party drilling the well must control the rights for the entire area associated with the well location. This means that a single small landowner could veto the exploitation of the minerals on the entire region. (In NM that's 640 acres for natural gas.) Since it's in the state's interest to collect the royalties on the gas, the state has "forced pooling" laws that forces you to join the pooling of rights to drill the well. You may receive lower royalties than those who joined voluntarily.
    – Llaves
    Aug 4, 2021 at 3:29
  • and it is also possible that you have mineral rights but they only extend say a few hundred meters down. As most oil and gas deposits are much deeper you won't own those.
    – jwenting
    Aug 4, 2021 at 9:25

Mineral rights are joined to the surface rights until they are severed.

Sometimes this is done by deed from a private owner, which shows up in the chain of title in public records.

In parts of the United States (mostly in the Rocky Mountains and places to the west of them), the United States government reserved mineral rights to itself before transferring the surface rights to private ownership.

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    The original deed for my property (in NM), issued under the Homestead Act of 1906, only reserves coal rights for the US gov't. Other minerals remained with the homesteader. And that was good for the homesteader, because there was oil and natural gas beneath the property.
    – Llaves
    Aug 4, 2021 at 3:35
  • @Llaves Most of the variation in the U.S. involves different homestead acts and different general rules of reserving mineral rights in other property to which patents from the federal government were issued. There were about half a dozen iterations.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 5, 2021 at 22:10

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