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A Guide to Split Estates in Oil & Gas Development

The State of Montana, like many western states, was granted property from the Federal government at statehood. This property consists of both mineral and surface estate, and is managed by the state to generate revenue to help fund public schools and other institutions. In Montana’s early years, considerable amounts of surface lands were sold, but the mineral ownership was retained by the state as required under Federal law.

One of the ways in which the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) generates school funding is through leasing these state-owned lands and mineral properties for oil & gas exploration and development.

It is important to note that the vast majority of oil and gas leases do not result in development. If exploration activity were proposed on a state oil and gas lease, our lessee would be in contact with the surface owner to coordinate and mitigate any proposed activities. The DNRC at that time would conduct an environmental review pursuant to the Montana Environmental Policy Act.

The Environmental Quality Council pursuant to House Bill 790 (Montana Legislature, 2005) created this brochure. The brochure is a summary of the document and is not a substitute for complete laws and regulations.

A Guide to Split Estates in Oil & Gas Development (pdf)

Our department maintains and can provide information about mineral property owned by the State of Montana. Similarly, the Federal Bureau of Land Management maintains information about federally-owned mineral property. Ownership information for privately-owned mineral property is maintained by the Clerk and Recorder's office in the county where the property is located

For more information about:

State Minerals
Julie Mason
Mineral Leasing Section, DNRC
P.O. Box 201601
Helena, MT 59620-1601

Federal Minerals
Public Records Section
Bureau of Land Management
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, MT 59101

Private Minerals
County Clerk and Recorder's Offices


Dept. of Natural Resources & Conservation
1625 Eleventh Ave.
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074
Fax: (406) 444-2684