Landowner Rights

Understanding surface and mineral rights

Most land in western Canada has two land titles – surface rights and mineral or subsurface rights. Mineral or subsurface rights are usually owned by the government. As a property owner, you own the surface rights.

The government may award a time-limited lease for the mineral rights to a company who wants to develop natural gas or oil. Mineral leases are time-limited and are valid from three to ten years.  While the government grants mineral rights to a company to explore for and produce oil and natural gas, access to mineral rights does not include access to the surface land. Surface access is granted by the landowner.  

Prairie Grain Siloh

Who awards mineral rights?

In B.C., mineral rights are awarded by the Ministry of Natural Gas Development. The ministry provides notification of mineral rights awards to landowners.

In Alberta, the Ministry of Energy awards rights and landowners are notified via the Alberta Mineral Information system (AMI)

Securing access to a landowners property

Once a company has secured the mineral rights they will negotiate a surface lease with the landowner. The agreement will:
  • Outline the proposed exploration and development activities
  • Detail the construction and maintenance of any above ground structures
  • Provide fair compensation for surface access to well sites and related infrastructure
  • Include a survey plan showing access, dimensions of the lease area and location of the well and infrastructure proposed