Lawyer: Owners Have Legal Options After Oil Companies Damage Land

Friday, October 18th 2013, 6:14 pm
By: News On 6

Some Creek County landowners are furious that they can't stop oil companies from using their property to search for oil.

When oil companies come onto your property, there's nothing legally you can do to keep them off. But lawyers say there are things you can do to make sure you're compensated for the damages.

"What it makes you feel like is you have no rights," said Creek County resident Bobbie Jo Bramlett.

We introduced you to Bramlett in August. She owns 30 acres in Creek County, but she only has surface rights and not mineral rights.

8/9/2013 Related Story: Creek County Residents Frustrated At Companies Testing Their Land For Oil

"It makes you feel like all of your efforts and everything you've done all your life really means nothing, technically," Bramlett said.

She received a letter from Eagle Land and Mineral Company, saying it will pay her $10 per acre for damages that may happen while workers perform seismic testing.

Contractors have already marked parts of her property with pink streamers and stakes.

She wanted to kick them off her land, but surface and mineral rights attorney Terry Stowers says that's not possible.

"The option really is, don't accept their money, let them do their seismic, then take them to court," Stowers said. "That's what we have our court system for."

Before the 2012 Seismic Exploration Regulation Act was passed, companies were not responsible for paying damages when it was considered "reasonable use."

"They only owed damages when it became an unreasonable use, for example, if they tore down a house or a building or drove over the whole 640 acres," Stowers said.

Now, you can take companies to court and they could be responsible for paying, not only unreasonable, but also reasonable damages workers may have caused.

If you plan on taking your case to court, lawyers say it's important to take pictures before the seismic testing starts, during the process, and after it's finished.