Archive for Oil Drilling

Oil Drilling on Your Illinois Property

Around a hundred years ago, speculators bought nearly all the oil rights to most of Southern Illinois around the time coal mining was developing. There were a few exceptions, but back then when someone came to your door, and said, “Sign here and I’ll give you a hundred dollars for your oil rights,” most people thought the guy was “touched in the head” and took “advantage” of him. Years later, the speculators, who owned not the land, but the rights to the oil beneath, began drilling oil wells. That lasted for a few decades, then the oil was depleted, the price was low, and the Southern Illinois oil boom ended.

Now that the price of oil has risen, the speculators are again knocking on our doors, not offering us $100 for oil rights, but to tell us that strangers will be drilling on our land to extract the oil – and there’s not a thing we can do about it! They ask for your signature on a contract and maybe offer you a few hundred dollars for your trouble while you listen to clanging, drilling, and are kept awake by flood lights all night long, ultimately leaving an oil pump to permanently deface your property.

Years ago there was no Environmental Protection Act to protect your land, so the drillers used the land as they pleased, and then moved on, leaving your land a mess. Now the E.P.A. and Illinois law require that the drillers protect the property, and leave it in the condition they found it.

If you have potentially oil rich land, when the oil driller asks you to sign a form contract (while reminding you that “this is the same contract your neighbors signed”) call those neighbors, take your time, read the fine print in the contract, and if it is not to your liking, suggest changes. Remember that the oil people, if they have the right to your oil, can’t destroy your land or crops without compensating you. If they have oil rights, they can drill, and if they abuse those rights, you can sue under Illinois Law “765 ILCS 530, the Drilling Operations Act” (use the preceding quote as a search term to find a copy of the law on the internet).

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