WHAT IS LAND ASSET MANAGEMENT?
Over the past 20 years, the skill set required of land professionals has increased significantly in complexity. What started as a strictly administrative role has evolved to become an analytical discipline involving the application of legal & regulatory requirements. The following points provide a glimpse into our world:
- All land in what is now Western Canada was originally granted to the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson’s Bay (Hudson’s Bay Company) by King Charles II in 1670.
- The word land usually refers to the surface of the earth. In a legal sense, however, it refers to that which extends from the center of the earth to the outer edge of the atmosphere. This is commonly referred to as the “heaven to hell” concept, or the doctrine of the “infinite carrot.”
- Surface rights grant the owner the right to the surface of the land and the air above it. Surface rights can be owned by individuals, corporations including other oil and gas companies and all levels of government.
- Mineral rights refer to the oil, natural gas and other minerals contained within geological structures below the surface of the ground. The mineral rights can be owned by individuals (freehold), companies or the federal and provincial governments (crown).
- All land agreements must be able to be located geographically and represented on a map or survey. This is accomplished through the use of a two-dimensional surface location using a variety of survey systems and latitude/longitude coordinates. For mineral agreements, the land legal description is four-dimensional, including the two-dimensional surface description as well as applicable formations and substances.
- Each Canadian province makes its own laws regarding the management of non-renewable resources. Land asset management professionals must be knowledgeable about all of the provincial regulations, guidelines and processes where their companies operate.
- Professionals working in land asset management may specialize in • Minerals • Contracts • Surface • Road Use/Third Party Agreements • Acquisitions and Divestitures • Joint Venture/Joint Interest • Systems/Reporting/Core Services • Abandonment and Reclamation.
- Land asset management professionals create, enhance and maintain the value of mineral, surface or joint venture assets, from acquisition through exploration and development to expiry/disposition or reclamation.
- In order to drill, produce and transport petroleum products, energy companies need to acquire both the mineral and surface rights to work on the land.
- When energy companies wish to drill a well or lay a pipeline, surface land professionals must first prepare (release) an “approval package” that includes a legal survey plan, all negotiated landowner surface agreements, a summary of all public consents and notifications required by law, and all third party agreements with other companies holding an interest in the land.
- Mineral agreements frequently contain surface restrictions which control or restrict the ability of the lessee to access the mineral rights. In other words, they restrict where you can drill or conduct other operations.
- All mineral and surface agreements require the payment of an initial consideration to be paid at the time of acquisition, as well as yearly rentals to keep the agreement in good standing.
- Land A&D (Acquisition & Divestiture) is a specialization within the overall land discipline. Many of the larger companies have separate Land A&D departments, groups or teams. This group has a variety of responsibilities such as due diligence review, title review, preparation, processing and tracking of conveyance documentation, schedules etc. in support of corporate A&D activity.