LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Arkansas is home to some rich oil fields and minerals. The Fayetteville shale is the most popular and developed in 2004. Landowners who had mineral rights are earning a nice profit. But some were surprised they didn't own the minerals under their own land.
When you buy property, you obviously deal with a realtor, but sometimes you need an attorney.
"Most people think they own their property and everything that goes with it and that isn't necessarily," says Baker Kurrus, a landowner and attorney.
Kurrus has helped Arkansans acquire mineral rights.
"Typically, oil and gas are considered a mineral and coal is considered a mineral; anything that is naturally occurring that is discreet and separately described," says Kurrus.
To find out who owns the minerals beneath your land. Kurrus says do a title search.
"The circuit clerk and recorder in every county in Arkansas has a record of all transactions of every piece of real estate in that county," says Kurrus.
From internet research we found arkansasmineralrights.com. Tommy Wood, a broker from Judsonia, started this website to help Arkansans seek royalties.
"I felt people in Fayetteville shale play area needed somebody to represent them. There were people coming in with own interest and nobody was interested in the people," says Wood. "I have a farmer right now who is going to sell land right now and sell 50 percent of mineral rights."
Without these rights, an oil company known as the lessee can drill on your land and suck up the minerals. If a lessor does not want the surface disturbed, they can negotiate a "No Surface Operations Clause." The details of a mineral lease can definitely be difficult to grasp.
Kurrus sums it up this way.
"That's why people do title searches and obtain title insurance, but before you acquire any real estate in Arkansas or anywhere else, you need to understand what you're buying," says Kurrus.
A mineral owner will receive a cash bonus on the front end when it signs a lease to a company. On top of that, royalties, which are routine payments.