Do you know your surface rights?

Do you have oil wells on your land? Do flow lines or pipelines cross your property? If so, you may have an interest in attending the upcoming Manitoba Surface Rights Association (MSRA) meeting in Pipestone, April 3.

This is a re-organizational business meeting in the morning, with an afternoon session dedicated to bring information to landowners, tenants, residents or operators of land affected by the oil/gas industry.

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At one time the MSRA was 230 members strong.

“The group disbanded for a few years,” says long-time association member Kevin Gabrielle. “I don’t think it was purposely done, but it went that way. We are back on track.”

Landowners will find a wealth of knowledge available through this association which was established back in 1978 to help with the legalities and fees associated with surface rights and the oil industry that mines and transports energy.

The Surface Rights Act was born through the lobby of this association. When oil was first discovered in the ‘50s, oil companies approached land owners for surface leases that generally had a term of 21 years. Compensation to landowners was minimal and no one expected oil production to last some 60 years and counting.

MSRA provides resources, support and information to help landowners stay current and make informed decisions.

While relationships between the industry and landowners generally run smoothly, Gabrielle says, “I think there’s a varying degree of knowledge out there. For some, a piece of paper comes in front of you and you just sign it. That’s when sometimes issues start.” He adds, “Also compensation-wise, people maybe aren’t getting what they should.” For example, there’s an option to have a three-year review of lease rental rates. Some people may not be aware of this.

The Surface Rights Board (SRB), unlike the landowners’ MSRA, is operated by the government, with government appointed members, as a quasi-judicial board with a mandate to uphold the Surface Rights Act.

The morning business meeting is open to previous, current or new members with the 2019 membership of $30. It includes lunch. Pre-registration by Saturday, March 30, is required.

Items that will be covered in the morning session include:

  • SRB website compensation information
  • SRB appointees
  • Three-year rental review
  • Wellsite abandonment

Lawyer Paul Elash Q.C. from Estevan will be speaking in the afternoon session which is open to the general public, with a Q & A to follow. Elash has been involved with surface rights matters, representing landowners over the years.


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