Kansas Surface Owner Notice Act Takes Effect
During the 2009 Kansas legislative session the Kansas Legislature passed and the Governor signed the Kansas Surface Owner Notice Act (Senate Substitute for House Bill 2032). The Act imposes certain requirements on oil and gas operators and the Kansas Corporation Commission (Commission) to notify surface owners in instances when a new well is drilled, when a change of operator occurs or when a well is plugged. In each of those instances the surface owner is to receive a copy of the form that the operator files with the Commission (Application of Intent to Drill, Notice of Transfer of Operator or Notice of Intention to Plug and Abandon) from the Commission unless the operator has certified to the Commission that the operator has notified the surface owner.
The act defines the surface owner as that party owning the surface estate as shown on the records of the Register of Deeds of the county where the land is located and who is assessed the property taxes according to the County Treasurer. Thus, in a landlord/tenant situation, the landlord will generally receive the notice.
The surface owner is to be furnished with contact information for the operator’s designated representative including name, address, phone number and fax number or email address. In addition the operator is to furnish the surface owner with a non-binding preliminary estimate of the location of roads of ingress and egress, any tank battery, and any pipeline or electrical line.
The law is effective July 1, 2009 but it gives the Commission until July 1, 2010 to publish rules and regulations. The Commission’s website indicates that the law is enforceable as of July 1, 2010. The Commission will need to redesign some of its forms to accommodate the requirements of the act. The rules will be developed by the Commission with input from the Oil and Gas Advisory Committee. That committee contains representation from industry groups (Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association, Eastern Kansas Oil & Gas Association, and Kansas Petroleum Council), groups representing surface owners and royalty owners (Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association, Southwest Kansas Royalty Owners Association and Eastern Kansas Royalty Owners Association) and a representative for the general public. The Committee will be meeting this fall and winter to develop the rules implementing the act