On March 26, 2020, a 5.0 magnitude earthquake was recorded in West Texas. Centered approximately 27 miles from the city of Mentone, the activity was located about 3 miles deep, was felt as far as El Paso, and is now the largest recorded earthquake in West Texas. The Mentone area recorded an additional 5 smaller earthquakes in the 4 days prior to the 5.0 being felt. As of the date of this writing, the West Texas area recorded 10 earthquakes over the past week and 28 over the last 30 days, all registering between four to eight (4 to 8) km deep.1
Mineral estates in Oklahoma are generally subject to the same collection of laws governing real property as surface estates. For example, 84 O.S. § 213 governs the descent and distribution of property of estates located within the State of Oklahoma, including mineral interests. Laws governing real property and succession typically go hand-in-hand and are ideally yoked to accomplish one thing: marketable title.
Under Oklahoma’s Statute of Frauds at 15 O.S. §136, certain types of contracts, including contracts involving conveyances of real property or modifications thereof, require that the terms of the transaction be memorialized in writing and signed by the party to be charged, or the party against whom specific performance is sought. Cloud v. Winn, 303 P.2d 305, 308 (Okla. 1956). Because a lease of mineral interests is a conveyance of real property, an oil and gas lease must be in writing. Further, an instrument affecting rights in real estate must be filed in accordance with the recording requirements of Title 16 of the Oklahoma statutes to be valid as against third persons. See Amarex Inc. v. El Paso Natural Gas Co., 1987 OK 48 ¶ 14, 772 P. 2d 905, 908.