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Haynesville Shale mineral rights dispute

Published: Jul. 17, 2008 at 9:20 PM CDT|Updated: Feb. 16, 2010 at 10:20 PM CST
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by Jeff Ferrell

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The very latest on the Haynesville Shale involves an obscure law that strips owners of mineral rights.  These families bought their property in south Caddo Parish believing they owned those mineral rights.  Now, they're looking for answers and help.

Property owner Jody Kirkpatrick told us, "we have found out that we do not own our mineral rights."  That potentially cost Kirkpatrick and his father 108-thousand dollars in bonus lease money they had expected for the natural gas two miles below their feet and locked inside rock called 'shale,' in this case the Haynesville Shale.

Kirkpatrick said they asked for advice, "including attorneys, land attorneys, oil men, land men.  As to date I haven't spoken to anyone who has ever heard of what we're dealing with."

The land described in 'Act 202' lies just north of Colquitt Road west of Shreveport. This obscure 1924 law that gives the state of Louisiana the mineral rights for 320 acres in this Keithville area apparently now affects about 130-property owners.

Kirkpatrick, along with neighbors like Tommy and Jill Munds, suspect the state may 'not' have an air-tight case for those mineral rights based on a recent letter from Louisiana Public Lands Records Manager Bobby Freyou;  a letter which states:  "Based upon my research I would think the state should claim a mineral interest in said property."  "Should claim.  It doesn't say does," emphasized Tommy Munds.

We called Bobby Freyou, but a recording says he's out this week.  Neither the Munds nor Kirkpatrick said they're ready to hire an attorney and pursue the case legally, just yet.  They're hoping publicity and maybe help from state lawmakers could resolve the issue before it ends up in court.  "We feel like it's time for the state to step-up and do the right thing," concluded Jill Munds.

The Munds said they've learned some of their neighbors have already signed lease agreements for mineral rights, not knowing about 'Act 202.'  If that's the case, the question then becomes will they have to pay that money back?