Category Archives: Oil & Gas

Avoiding probate on small mineral interests in Arkansas.

Clients often call me with a request to probate a will to transfer title to some mineral rights in one of the oil or gas producing Arkansas counties.  Many times, the cost of the probate far exceeds the present value of the mineral rights.  For those mineral owners, it is too late.  The law requires a probate to transfer title if the deceased’s will leaves the property to someone other than the intestate heirs.  This most comes up frequently because many will leave property to a spouse or to a trust, and neither are intestate heirs under Arkansas law.

If you own mineral rights, and want to avoid probate in Arkansas, then an Arkansas Beneficiary Deed is a very good option.  The deed can automatically transfer your Arkansas mineral rights upon your death, much like a pay on death bank account.  Also like a pay on death bank account, the designated beneficiary can be any person, company, or charity.

In my opinion, an Arkansas Mineral Beneficiary Deed is the best option to avoid probate for clients with mineral interests in Arkansas who will have a gross estate that is less than the Federal Estate Tax Exemption.  Contact Law Offices of Mark Robinette for more information.

Landowners Prevail in Cleburne County Arkansas Mineral Rights Litigation But Damages Lacking

Cleburne County landowners Bruce and Jan Smith won on appeal in the case of Smith v. Mountain Pine Timber, Inc., 2016 Ark. App. 193.  In this case, Mountain Pine timber previously sold the minerals to land later sold to the Smiths.  Mountain Pine then sold the land to the Smiths with full warranty of title and with no mineral reservation.

Under Arkansas law, a warranty of title is actionable as a breach of contract.   The statute of limitations does not begin to run until a third party disturbs the purchaser’s rights to possession of the property.  This is particularly important feature of the law when it comes to minerals.  Minerals are not possessed until produced.  Many years can pass before the requisite mineral development and production takes place.

In the Smith case, they purchased the land from Mountain Pine Timber in 1987.  It was not until 2008, when the Smiths were approached to sell their mineral rights that the Smiths discovered that Mountain Pine previously sold the Cleburne County mineral rights.

Another point of black letter law in Arkansas is that the damages for breach of warranty of title are “so much of the consideration paid as is proportioned to the value of the land lost, with interest.”  Furthermore, the damages cannot exceed the total value of the purchase price.  The Court of Appeals therefore reasoned that the property point in time to fix damages was the time of the conveyance.  In this case, that was the 1987 conveyance to the Smiths from Mountain Pine.  The Smith trial court awarded only $250.22 in damages or $1/acre.

Notably, the only evidence offered on the value of the Cleburne County mineral rights in 1987 was from one of the Defendants who testified that the mineral rights were sold by Mountain Pine for $1 per acre in 1985.  This underscores the importance of offering expert testimony of damages.  Most likely, the actual value of the Cleburne County mineral rights was much higher than the $1 per acre awarded by the trial court, and the low damages award was the result of insufficient testimony by the Plaintiffs.   I’ve seen numerous mineral deeds in the Cleburne County records prior to the Fayetteville Shale discovery that easily exceeded $1 per acre.

Justice, however, was in some manner served for the loss suffered by the Smiths.  In a companion appeal of Mountain Pine Timber v. Smith, 2016 Ark. App. 197, the Court of Appeals upheld an award of attorney’s fees in the same case.  Arkansas law allows attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in a contract action (which a deed covenant is) provided the fees are reasonable.  The court awarded $17,500 in attorney’s fees.  The Appeals Court concluded the award of attorney’s fees was not excessive.

Van Buren County, Arkansas surface owners win partial victory over mineral owners on bad legal description.

In XTO v. Thacker, 2015 Ark. App. 203, a Van Buren County, Arkansas trial court ruled that a mineral deed with an extra handwritten description “also the South quarter of the Northeast quarter” invalid as surplusage.  In legal language, “surplusage” is just extra language that means nothing.    Surplusage is language that is unintelligible and repugnant to the matter at hand.  In this case, there was a typewritten legal description of 118 acres with a handwritten notation including “the South quarter of the Northeast quarter.”

When affirming the Van Buren County, Arkansas trial court’s ruling on the legal description in the deed, the Arkansas Court of Appeals noted that someone made the notation on the deed after the date of recording.  Thus, the land description attempted was not in the original parties’ bargain and the language placed in the deed after the recording date was surplusage.

Drafting is very important in any deed, but especially important in Arkansas mineral deeds.  Accurate legal descriptions are among the most important parts of a mineral deed.  It pays to have your Arkansas mineral deed lawyer to perform some title work to obtain the correct legal descriptions when giving an Arkansas mineral deed.  This may make the deed cost more, but it saves down the road when others may choose to scrutinize the title conveyed by the deed because the property has valuable oil and gas production and royalties.  It is also crucial that when granting Arkansas mineral interests title is clear and of record.   This too becomes an issue years later when there is real money at stake that makes the extra paid to a competent mineral deed lawyer a bargain in comparison to future litigation costs.

Mark Robinette is an Arkansas lawyer and attorney providing Arkansas mineral deeds and supporting Arkansas title work in all 72 Arkansas counties including the Fayetteville Shale counties of White County, Cleburne County, Van Buren County, Faulkner County, Conway County, and Pope County.   Arkansas lawyer Mark Robinette also represents persons in the South Arkansas oil patch including Nevada County, Ouachita County, Miller County, Lafayette County, Columbia County, Union County, and Calhoun County.

Van Buren County, Arkansas surface owners lose appeal on 1984 mineral quiet title order

In XTO v. Thacker, 2015 Ark. App. 203, some Van Buren County, Arkansas surface owners filed a quiet title suit in 1984 naming one of two original 1929 Van Buren County mineral deed grantees as defendants.  In the 1984 Arkansas quiet title suit, the surface owners alleged that the grantor of the mineral deed was not the record owner of the property and that the mineral deed was therefore invalid.

In usual fashion, the surface owner’s quiet title suit attorney filed an affidavit reciting that whereabouts of the named Arkansas mineral owner defendant was unknown after making a “diligent inquiry.”  The affidavit did not detail the efforts of the lawyer’s efforts to locate the mineral owner.   The clerk issued a warning order based on the affidavit, and the warning order ran in the local paper for four weeks.

Of course, the mineral owner defendant did not appear to answer the Arkansas mineral quiet title complaint.  The court entered an order quieting title in the surface owner defendants.  In 2010, after the development of the Fayetteville Shale in Van Buren County, Arkansas, the absent Van Buren County, Arkansas mineral owner learned of the 1984 quiet title decree and sought to set aside the court’s order of 26 years earlier.

At trial, the mineral owners and their production company lessee (XTO) lost.  The trial court ruled that the plaintiffs in the 1984 case complied with the rules governing notice in quiet title suits that were in effect at the time.

The Arkansas Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s order finding that the plaintiffs properly served the absent mineral owner.  Specifically, the rules in effect at the time of the 1984 required a recitation of the efforts employed to locate the missing mineral owner.  In this case, the affidavit merely recited that the absent mineral owner was not found after “diligent inquiry.”

In addition, the Arkansas Court of Appeals found that the 1984 case did not employ every method of notice required.  A newspaper warning order in a civil suit is a general requirement.  In an Arkansas quiet title lawsuit, there is a specific statutory requirement found in Ark. Code Ann. 18-60-503.  The statute requires a specific type of newspaper notice to run for four weeks with due proof of publication filed in the case.  This was absent in the 1984 quiet title suit.

When pursuing a quiet title lawsuit in Arkansas, it is vitally important to follow rules governing notice in the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure to the letter.  In addition, a plaintiff must follow the statutes governing Arkansas quiet title suits in general found in the Arkansas Property Code (Title 18).  When choosing an Arkansas quiet title lawyer for mineral interests or surface interests, make sure the quiet title attorney has knowledge of all the relevant statutes and does a thorough job of locating and identifying possible defendants.

Mark Robinette is an Arkansas lawyer and attorney providing quiet title suit services in all 72 Arkansas counties including the Fayetteville Shale counties of White County, Cleburne County, Van Buren County, Faulkner County, Conway County, and Pope County.   Arkansas lawyer Mark Robinette also represents persons with quiet title suits in the South Arkansas oil patch including Nevada County, Ouachita County, Miller County, Lafayette County, Columbia County, Union County, and Calhoun County.

Van Buren County Land Owner Loses Challenge to Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission’s Integration Process

The Supreme Court of Arkansas upheld Arkansas’ oil and gas integration process in the opinion of Gawenis v. Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission, 2015 Ark. 238.  Gawenis, a Van Buren County landowner, challenged the integration procedure as an unconstitutional taking of property.  The Supreme Court issued a 12 page opinion with a lengthy explanation of oil and gas unit integration in Arkansas.  It is a very good introduction to the subject for anyone who does not know the background of oil and gas unit integrations in Arkansas.  After explaining the process, the court reasoned that because the Van Buren County landowner had various options that did not require a transfer of the title to his oil and gas rights, the Arkansas oil and gas integration was not a “taking” of property so as to trigger the Constitutional requirement for a trial by jury.  This was the opinion of nearly all Arkansas oil and gas attorneys prior to this challenge.

The case drew a lone dissenter in Justice Joseph Linker Hart who reasoned that the use of fracking may cause special damages which triggers the Constitution of the State of Arkansas’s requirement for a jury trial to ascertain the amount of damages.

Law Offices of Mark Robinette accepts oil and gas litigation, title curative, royalty dispute, and integration cases in all Fayetteville Shale counties in Arkansas including Faulkner County Arkansas, Van Buren County Arkansas, Conway County Arkansas, Cleburne County Arkansas, and White County Arkansas.  Call today at 501-251-1076, or click one of the action buttons in the right frame where you may schedule a call, video conference, or receive answers to your legal questions.

Changing Oil and Gas Royalty Ownership with Lion Oil in South Arkansas

When I get a call from a potential client about their oil royalties in South Arkansas, I always ask “who has your lease?”  The answer 9 out of 10 times is “Lion Oil.”  This answer is wrong answer 10 out of 10 times.  Lion oil is just a refinery.  They don’t own oil wells anymore. They do own pipelines, but that’s about all outside of the refinery gates.   So why do the checks come from Lion Oil? That’s always the next question. The answer is simple:  Most oil operators in South Arkansas do not have the back office staff to set up and maintain complicated oil well ownership pay decks.  (Complicated it is! I will tell you that a typical 80 acre oil production unit in South Arkansas has upwards of 100 distinct owners with interests diluted to the 9th decimal place.)    Thus, these mom and pop oil companies outsource their royalty payment back office to Lion Oil.  It works well because nearly all of the oil production in South Arkansas goes to Lion Oil anyways.

Lion Oil is a wholly owned subsidiary of Israeli multinational company Delek Holdings (NYSE: DK).  The company bought Lion Oil back in 2011, but don’t worry, nothing changed as far as I can tell dealing with the land department.  Still the same helpful folks.  To change ownership, one has to contact their land department.  They don’t provide legal advice.  Thus, if you need your Arkansas oil and gas royalty ownership changed, you need professional advice.  An Arkansas oil and gas lawyer can help.  Law Offices of Mark Robinette practices Arkansas oil and gas law out of Little Rock, Arkansas.  Mr. Robinette regularly deals with oil and gas royalty ownership changes in Union County Arkansas, Columbia County Arkansas, Lafayette County Arkansas, Miller County Arkansas, Ouachita County Arkansas, and Calhoun County Arkansas.  These are all counties that produce oil and gas that goes to Lion Oil.

Many things can trigger a need to change oil and gas royalty ownership in Arkansas.  This might include:  Death of the owner, divorce of owner, sale of the interest, bankruptcy, creation of a trust, and name changes.  In addition to providing these documents to Lion Oil, the owner should record the information in the real estate records of the county of the oil well or oil production unit.  While this seems simple, there are many traps for the unwary.  Hiring Law Offices of Mark Robinette to handle your Arkansas oil and gas royalty ownership transfer will give you the piece of mind that an experienced Arkansas oil and gas lawyer will handle your oil and gas ownership change from start to finish.

Law Offices of Mark Robinette Prepares Yell County, Arkansas Mineral Deeds

Law Offices of Mark Robinette has offices in Little Rock, Arkansas, but prepares Arkansas mineral deeds in all Arkansas Counties including Yell County, Arkansas. The Yell County Circuit Clerk and Recorder located in the County seat of Danville and Dardanelle handles recording of mineral deeds for the County of Yell in the State of Arkansas. Deed recording and preparation is done by mail correspondence, so you can hire Mr. Robinette and put his years of experience in oil, gas and mineral law to work for you without incurring any travel costs. Recording costs for deeds in Arkansas are $15 for the first page and $5 for each additional page.

If you have mineral assets, whether they are oil, gas, hard rock minerals, or brine in Yell County Arkansas or the cities of Belleville, Danville, Dardanelle, Havana, Ola, Plainview in Yell County Arkansas, you should give Arkansas mineral deed lawyer and attorney Mark Robinette a call today.   Mr. Robinette has years of experience in Arkansas oil, gas, mineral rights, land, and real estate law.   As an Arkansas mineral deed lawyer, Mr. Robinette provides the following services:

  • Mineral Warranty Deeds
  • Mineral Quitclaim Deeds
  • Mineral Cross Conveyance Deeds
  • Royalty Deeds
  • Mineral Deeds with recitals of heirship
  • Mineral Beneficiary Deeds

Mr. Robinette has years of experience as a corporate oil, gas, and mineral lawyer. This means he knows and understands all of the pitfalls in mineral deed preparation that cause problems when oil, gas, and mineral production companies examine title and scrutinize mineral deeds for defects. Be very careful when hiring a “title company” to prepare your Arkansas mineral deed. Title companies in Arkansas typically deal exclusively in residential and commercial real estate closings. These skill sets include basic deed preparation, but title companies learn how to prepare deeds for compliance with general real estate, lending and insurance laws.   Thus, a typical title company’s skill set does not ordinarily include knowledge of Arkansas mineral conveyancing rules. Not to say there are not some title companies out there with staff qualified to prepare mineral deeds, but those title companies are uncommon.  If you choose to hire a title company instead of an Arkansas mineral deed lawyer, screen the title company carefully. Find out if a qualified attorney actually reviews your deed. Ask whether they prepare mineral deeds on a regular basis and whether you deed will be prepared by a qualified Arkansas mineral deed attorney.  Remember, when you hire The Law Offices of Mark Robinette to prepare your Arkansas mineral deed, you get Mark Robinette. Your deed will not be delegated to an assistant. Your matter will get the complete attention of an Arkansas oil, gas and mineral lawyer and attorney with years of relevant experience.

Mr. Robinette welcomes inquiries from out-of-state law firms and individuals for local counsel services.     If you are ready to speak to a Yell County Arkansas mineral deed lawyer or attorney today, call Mark Robinette at 501-251-1076 or email him at info@robinettefirm.com.   Learn more about Mr. Robinette at: http://www.robinettefirm.com/contact/mark-robinette/ Learn more about Arkansas oil and gas and real estate law at: http://robinettefirm.com/oil-gas/ and http://robinettefirm.com/real-estate/

Law Offices of Mark Robinette Prepares Woodruff County, Arkansas Mineral Deeds

Law Offices of Mark Robinette has offices in Little Rock, Arkansas, but prepares Arkansas mineral deeds in all Arkansas Counties including Woodruff County, Arkansas. The Woodruff County Circuit Clerk and Recorder located in the County seat of Augusta handles recording of mineral deeds for the County of Woodruff in the State of Arkansas. Deed recording and preparation is done by mail correspondence, so you can hire Mr. Robinette and put his years of experience in oil, gas and mineral law to work for you without incurring any travel costs. Recording costs for deeds in Arkansas are $15 for the first page and $5 for each additional page.

If you have mineral assets, whether they are oil, gas, hard rock minerals, or brine in Woodruff County Arkansas or the cities of Augusta, Cotton Plant, McCrory, Patterson in Woodruff County Arkansas, you should give Arkansas mineral deed lawyer and attorney Mark Robinette a call today.   Mr. Robinette has years of experience in Arkansas oil, gas, mineral rights, land, and real estate law.   As an Arkansas mineral deed lawyer, Mr. Robinette provides the following services:

  • Mineral Warranty Deeds
  • Mineral Quitclaim Deeds
  • Mineral Cross Conveyance Deeds
  • Royalty Deeds
  • Mineral Deeds with recitals of heirship
  • Mineral Beneficiary Deeds

Mr. Robinette has years of experience as a corporate oil, gas, and mineral lawyer. This means he knows and understands all of the pitfalls in mineral deed preparation that cause problems when oil, gas, and mineral production companies examine title and scrutinize mineral deeds for defects. Be very careful when hiring a “title company” to prepare your Arkansas mineral deed. Title companies in Arkansas typically deal exclusively in residential and commercial real estate closings. These skill sets include basic deed preparation, but title companies learn how to prepare deeds for compliance with general real estate, lending and insurance laws.   Thus, a typical title company’s skill set does not ordinarily include knowledge of Arkansas mineral conveyancing rules. Not to say there are not some title companies out there with staff qualified to prepare mineral deeds, but those title companies are uncommon.  If you choose to hire a title company instead of an Arkansas mineral deed lawyer, screen the title company carefully. Find out if a qualified attorney actually reviews your deed. Ask whether they prepare mineral deeds on a regular basis and whether you deed will be prepared by a qualified Arkansas mineral deed attorney.  Remember, when you hire The Law Offices of Mark Robinette to prepare your Arkansas mineral deed, you get Mark Robinette. Your deed will not be delegated to an assistant. Your matter will get the complete attention of an Arkansas oil, gas and mineral lawyer and attorney with years of relevant experience.

Mr. Robinette welcomes inquiries from out-of-state law firms and individuals for local counsel services.     If you are ready to speak to a Woodruff County Arkansas mineral deed lawyer or attorney today, call Mark Robinette at 501-251-1076 or email him at info@robinettefirm.com.   Learn more about Mr. Robinette at: http://www.robinettefirm.com/contact/mark-robinette/ Learn more about Arkansas oil and gas and real estate law at: http://robinettefirm.com/oil-gas/ and http://robinettefirm.com/real-estate/

Law Offices of Mark Robinette Prepares White County, Arkansas Mineral Deeds

Law Offices of Mark Robinette has offices in Little Rock, Arkansas, but prepares Arkansas mineral deeds in all Arkansas Counties including White County, Arkansas. The White County Circuit Clerk and Recorder located in the County seat of Searcy handles recording of mineral deeds for the County of White in the State of Arkansas. Deed recording and preparation is done by mail correspondence, so you can hire Mr. Robinette and put his years of experience in oil, gas and mineral law to work for you without incurring any travel costs. Recording costs for deeds in Arkansas are $15 for the first page and $5 for each additional page.

If you have mineral assets, whether they are oil, gas, hard rock minerals, or brine in White County Arkansas or the cities of Bald Knob , Beebe, Bradford, McRae, Pangburn, Rose Bud, Searcy in White County Arkansas, you should give Arkansas mineral deed lawyer and attorney Mark Robinette a call today.   Mr. Robinette has years of experience in Arkansas oil, gas, mineral rights, land, and real estate law.   As an Arkansas mineral deed lawyer, Mr. Robinette provides the following services:

  • Mineral Warranty Deeds
  • Mineral Quitclaim Deeds
  • Mineral Cross Conveyance Deeds
  • Royalty Deeds
  • Mineral Deeds with recitals of heirship
  • Mineral Beneficiary Deeds

Mr. Robinette has years of experience as a corporate oil, gas, and mineral lawyer. This means he knows and understands all of the pitfalls in mineral deed preparation that cause problems when oil, gas, and mineral production companies examine title and scrutinize mineral deeds for defects. Be very careful when hiring a “title company” to prepare your Arkansas mineral deed. Title companies in Arkansas typically deal exclusively in residential and commercial real estate closings. These skill sets include basic deed preparation, but title companies learn how to prepare deeds for compliance with general real estate, lending and insurance laws.   Thus, a typical title company’s skill set does not ordinarily include knowledge of Arkansas mineral conveyancing rules. Not to say there are not some title companies out there with staff qualified to prepare mineral deeds, but those title companies are uncommon.  If you choose to hire a title company instead of an Arkansas mineral deed lawyer, screen the title company carefully. Find out if a qualified attorney actually reviews your deed. Ask whether they prepare mineral deeds on a regular basis and whether you deed will be prepared by a qualified Arkansas mineral deed attorney.  Remember, when you hire The Law Offices of Mark Robinette to prepare your Arkansas mineral deed, you get Mark Robinette. Your deed will not be delegated to an assistant. Your matter will get the complete attention of an Arkansas oil, gas and mineral lawyer and attorney with years of relevant experience.

Mr. Robinette welcomes inquiries from out-of-state law firms and individuals for local counsel services.     If you are ready to speak to a White County Arkansas mineral deed lawyer or attorney today, call Mark Robinette at 501-251-1076 or email him at info@robinettefirm.com.   Learn more about Mr. Robinette at: http://www.robinettefirm.com/contact/mark-robinette/ Learn more about Arkansas oil and gas and real estate law at: http://robinettefirm.com/oil-gas/ and http://robinettefirm.com/real-estate/

Law Offices of Mark Robinette Prepares Washington County, Arkansas Mineral Deeds

Law Offices of Mark Robinette has offices in Little Rock, Arkansas, but prepares Arkansas mineral deeds in all Arkansas Counties including Washington County, Arkansas. The Washington County Circuit Clerk and Recorder located in the County seat of Fayetteville handles recording of mineral deeds for the County of Washington in the State of Arkansas. Deed recording and preparation is done by mail correspondence, so you can hire Mr. Robinette and put his years of experience in oil, gas and mineral law to work for you without incurring any travel costs. Recording costs for deeds in Arkansas are $15 for the first page and $5 for each additional page.

If you have mineral assets, whether they are oil, gas, hard rock minerals, or brine in Washington County Arkansas or the cities of Elkins, Elm Springs, Farmington, Fayetteville, Greenland, Johnson, Lincoln, Prairie Grove, Springdale, Tontitown, West Fork in Washington County Arkansas, you should give Arkansas mineral deed lawyer and attorney Mark Robinette a call today.   Mr. Robinette has years of experience in Arkansas oil, gas, mineral rights, land, and real estate law.   As an Arkansas mineral deed lawyer, Mr. Robinette provides the following services:

  • Mineral Warranty Deeds
  • Mineral Quitclaim Deeds
  • Mineral Cross Conveyance Deeds
  • Royalty Deeds
  • Mineral Deeds with recitals of heirship
  • Mineral Beneficiary Deeds

Mr. Robinette has years of experience as a corporate oil, gas, and mineral lawyer. This means he knows and understands all of the pitfalls in mineral deed preparation that cause problems when oil, gas, and mineral production companies examine title and scrutinize mineral deeds for defects. Be very careful when hiring a “title company” to prepare your Arkansas mineral deed. Title companies in Arkansas typically deal exclusively in residential and commercial real estate closings. These skill sets include basic deed preparation, but title companies learn how to prepare deeds for compliance with general real estate, lending and insurance laws.   Thus, a typical title company’s skill set does not ordinarily include knowledge of Arkansas mineral conveyancing rules. Not to say there are not some title companies out there with staff qualified to prepare mineral deeds, but those title companies are uncommon.  If you choose to hire a title company instead of an Arkansas mineral deed lawyer, screen the title company carefully. Find out if a qualified attorney actually reviews your deed. Ask whether they prepare mineral deeds on a regular basis and whether you deed will be prepared by a qualified Arkansas mineral deed attorney.  Remember, when you hire The Law Offices of Mark Robinette to prepare your Arkansas mineral deed, you get Mark Robinette. Your deed will not be delegated to an assistant. Your matter will get the complete attention of an Arkansas oil, gas and mineral lawyer and attorney with years of relevant experience.

Mr. Robinette welcomes inquiries from out-of-state law firms and individuals for local counsel services.     If you are ready to speak to a Washington County Arkansas mineral deed lawyer or attorney today, call Mark Robinette at 501-251-1076 or email him at info@robinettefirm.com.   Learn more about Mr. Robinette at: http://www.robinettefirm.com/contact/mark-robinette/ Learn more about Arkansas oil and gas and real estate law at: http://robinettefirm.com/oil-gas/ and http://robinettefirm.com/real-estate/