What about me?
Q. What kind of geology is under my property?
The answer to this question depends upon where you live. You may contact the Pennsylvania Geological Survey to determine if we have any existing maps or reports that are specific to your area. For the western (oil and gas producing) portion of the state, you may want to consult Open-File Report OFOG 07-01.0, and/or contact the Pittsburgh office of the Survey to learn about subsurface geology and producing oil and gas reservoirs under your property.
Q. How do I know if I own the oil and gas rights for my property?
Ownership of oil and gas rights is specified on property deeds, often in cryptic legal text. A thorough deed search at your county courthouse may be warranted to determine if your property still retains the oil and gas rights underneath it. See additional resources for further information about oil and gas rights, leasing, and what you should know.
Q. Can I drill my own oil and gas well?
It costs a great deal of money to drill an oil or gas well, typically in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is often beyond the means of the average landowner. In certain areas of the state, such as near the lake shore in Erie County, gas can be obtained by drilling 1,000 feet or less, so the cost is substantially less. If you plan on drilling your own well, be aware that you will be under the same legal requirement to permit and bond a well as any oil or gas company (contact PADEP – see weblinks and phone numbers, below) for a copy of the Pennsylvania Well Operator’s Guide). If you plan on simply buying an existing well, the state provides guidance (see “Natural Gas Wells Owned and Operated by Homeowners” fact sheet,). These owner-operators are bound by the same safety, bonding, environmental, and reporting compliance regulations that oil and gas companies are. You may call the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – Bureau of Oil and Gas Management office nearest you for more information on drilling oil and gas wells.
PADEP - Pittsburgh office – (412) 442-4024
PADEP - Meadville office – (814) 332-6860
PADEP - Williamsport office – (570) 321-6550
PADEP - Harrisburg – (717) 772-2199
Q. Do I have any say as to what oil and gas operators do on my land if I’m only a surface property owner?
Yes. Even if you do not own the oil and gas rights to your property, you should retain legal counsel and work with the operator to ensure that your property (including private water supplies, if applicable) is not adversely damaged by access to and drilling at the well site. For more information, consult “Landowners and Oil and Gas Leases in Pennsylvania” fact sheet or visit one of the online oil and gas leasing forums.
Q. How do I locate reputable geologic consultants that could assess my property for potential oil or gas resources?
The Pennsylvania Geological Survey cannot formally recommend or speak to the qualifications of consultants. The best recommendation is to contact professional organizations local to your area for a listing of qualified consultants. Online resources (see additional resources) provide a good starting point.
Q. How do I locate a reputable attorney experienced in oil and gas law to represent me in my leasing negotiations with an oil and gas operator?
The Pennsylvania Geological Survey cannot formally recommend or speak to the qualifications of attorneys. The best recommendation is to contact your county bar association for a list of oil and gas lawyers in your area. Online resources (see additional resources) can provide more listings.
Q. How do I find out if the company(ies) approaching me are legitimate oil and gas operators already working in Pennsylvania or just land speculators looking for a get-rich-quick scheme?
You may visit PADEP’s Environment Facility Application Compliance Tracking System (eFACTS) database, a free, online tool that allows the public to search for operators, facilities/sites, permits, and the like get a better understanding of which companies are working in Pennsylvania and where. In addition, you may also want to visit one of the online oil and gas leasing forums.
Q. What kind of money is being offered to lease or buy land and oil and gas rights here in Pennsylvania?
Neither the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection nor the Pennsylvania Geological Survey has any purview over lease agreements between operators and individuals. Online forums, such as those listed below, are probably the best way to track lease offers.