Oil, Gas & Coal Legal Services at Smith Butz

Oil, Gas & Coal

When you are faced with a decision to sign a lease or any other legal document regarding your oil/gas it is critical to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side to represent you during and after lease negotiations. The attorneys at Smith Butz use their broad knowledge and experience in the gas, oil, and coal industries to protect the rights of mineral owners as well as surface owners. We have worked with oil and gas companies and coal companies negotiating leases, right of way agreements, seismic testing agreements, and royalty disputes. Our attorneys have negotiated hundreds of oil and gas leases with various legal provisions specific to the needs and concerns of individual mineral and surface owners.

Western Pennsylvania has not been immune to issues relating to coal and gas rights in the past. As with any business, the buyer’s approach is to pay as little as possible and at times the tactics employed, a smiling, trusting face and endless promises, often miss expectations. The bottom line is you need to know your rights.

If you have been approached about leasing or selling your mineral rights or if you have suffered damages as a result of mine subsidence, use our experience and knowledge of this industry to your advantage.

We specialize in:

We help landowners with oil and gas leasing negotiations

There is a lot of information and many considerations when leasing your oil, gas, and other minerals, which include royalty, bonus monies, and the actual lease terms which can dictate how an oil and gas company can treat your land while producing the gas beneath it. During the negotiation of a lease for your oil or gas rights, an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer is your best advocate.

You have the strongest negotiating power before you sign an oil and gas lease. We have the experience, knowledge and background to use this power to protect your rights, preserve your land, and get you the best compensation possible, both now and in the future. The leases we secure for landowners are designed to withstand scrutiny and protect landowners’ rights.

We help landowners with mineral lease and sales contracts

Beyond oil and gas and coal production there is an array of minerals located under your property including sandstone, limestone, gravel, uranium and others. These naturally occurring minerals may have economic value unto themselves and being approached to mine or produce these minerals may leave you with an array of questions. We can help guide you through the information including explaining how the mineral itself is of value, researching the current market to place you in a strong negotiating position and assessing the level of clean up and restoration needed after the mining is complete.

At Smith Butz, we recognize that each mineral resource has different environmental and marketing issues. We work to ensure that your contract provides that the operator obtains the proper permits, commits to reclamation, and complies with all regulatory and statutory requirements. We have the knowledge and experience to negotiate a mineral rights contract that protects your rights and the integrity of your property.

We help landowners with land use agreements

As part of the drilling process, you may be approached by a drilling company which has an interest in acquiring a “right of way” through your property. Focusing on your rights as the property owner, we have experience negotiating contracts related to sales, right of way agreements (easement agreements), construction, pipelines, seismic testing and exploration. Our experience in this area has provided us with the ability to maximize what the drilling company pays for the “right of way” and minimize the amount of damage allowed to the surface of the property. We pride ourselves in providing sound and effective representation to clients seeking assistance in addressing these issues.

We help landowners with mineral, oil, gas and coal litigation

If you have already signed a lease with an oil and gas company, but are in a position in which the oil and gas company has not performed pursuant to the terms of the lease, you may be in need of litigation services. In some cases, even if you have taken appropriate steps to protect your interests and property, someone may claim superior ownership to your oil and gas rights, the company you contracted with may violate the contract, leaving you with damaged property, water loss, unpaid royalties, fines or unforeseen cleanup costs. In some cases you may need to look to a court to enforce the terms of the agreement. Our firm has litigated and is actively litigating cases in both State and Federal Court against gas and coal companies regarding land owners’ rights. Our attorneys are no strangers to the courtroom and will willingly pursue all avenues to recover damages for clients with a contract that has been breached by an oil or gas industry contractor. As litigators who will defend your rights, we represent clients in pre-trial negotiations, at trial, and in settlement discussions.

At Smith Butz, LLC, we can help resolve disputes between property owners and lessees in matters such as failure to pay royalties and bonus payments, failure to produce, failure to reclaim property, pollution, violating land protection clauses in the lease, conflicting land surveys and other breach of contract issues. In these and all other disputes that result in litigation, our attorneys remain strong advocates for landowners and we fight for the recourse you deserve if your lease or contract has been violated.

Additionally, we have worked with companies to assist property owners in obtaining a release of lease, getting them out from under ancient leases so their property is free to lease again.

We help landowners with royalty disputes

As an oil and gas royalty owner, you should be receiving accurate and timely payment from the company you have leased with. Our attorneys are experienced in representing landowners to resolve disputes over the terms, calculations, and payment of royalties pursuant to lease or agreement. Although some disputes involving royalty payments are genuine oversights, many times a failure to pay the correct royalty was deliberate. Because of their experience, our attorneys are aware of many of the potential pitfalls involving oil and gas leases. The mining and production industry has the potential to generate huge profits for landowners and companies alike. It is not uncommon to see careless practices. The result of careless or negligent behavior may result in a royalty dispute that requires an experienced oil and gas law firm who understands the complex factual and legal issues involved in gas and oil royalties.

We help landowners with reclamation concerns

Mineral extraction and oil/gas production on your property may, in many circumstances, cause foreseen and unforeseen damage to your property resulting in a loss of normal use of the surface of your land. Often their activities involve heavy equipment, dirt and dust, drilling explosions, noise, oil and diesel spills, fires, and toxic chemicals. Most companies try to be a good neighbor, but accidents do happen which can potentially result in significant cleanup costs and efforts. Although these industries are heavily regulated, the agencies responsible for monitoring the activities of companies are stretched thin, often leaving the landowner to deal with the problem. These activities, when conducted on or near your property can have a devastating effect on your land and your ability to use your property if you do not anticipate them when negotiating a production lease. By having the appropriate contract, it can serve to clearly spell out the rights and responsibilities of the company. You can protect your land and minimizing the potential costs for you to fix your property to return it to its predrilling status by utilizing one of our experienced attorneys.


If you have been approached about leasing or selling you mineral rights or if you have suffered damages as a result of mine subsidence, use our experience and knowledge of this industry to your advantage.

Contact Smith Butz