Texas Supreme Court Decision Favors Mineral Lessees Over Surface Owners.

In this case, the Court faced a situation where the defendants bought an 85-acre tract that was originally part of a 191-acre tract.  They built a house on the tract two years later.  The plaintiffs owned 1/8th of the minerals associated with the tract and also operated a well on an adjacent tract.  The plaintiff had created a pooled unit and a road crossed the defendant's land that led to the well.  After the defendant's built their home, the plaintiff developed a second well on the pooled unit and, as a result, traffic on the road increased.  The defendant's claimed that the plaintiff's had no right to access or use their property to produce minerals on the adjoining tracts.  Trial testimony showed that the second well's drainage area did not impact the defendant's property.  The trial court determined that the plaintiff had no right to access or use the defendant's property to access a well that didn't impact (drain) the defendant's property.  The appellate court affirmed.  On further review, the Court reversed.  The Court held that once a pooled unit is formed, the pooled tracts no longer maintain separate identities with respect to the oil and gas development where the production is located.  Production from one tract in the pool is deemed to be production from all of the pooled tracts.  There was no assertion that the pooling was in bad faith.  Key Operating & Equipment, Inc. v. Hegar, No. 13-0156, 2014 Tex. LEXIS 504 (Tex. Sup. Ct. Jun. 20, 2014).