Landowners to receive notice prior to drilling

05 10, 2012 by Daily Advertiser

Landowners who have agreed to allow oil or gas drilling on their property should get at least 30 days notice before crews move in to build roads, set up drilling platforms and start drilling, says Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin.

The House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday endorsed his SB535 and sent it to the full House for debate.

Allain, who is a sugarcane farmer and land manager, said his bill comes from personal experience. He said he had just planted a new crop when a representative of a drilling operation started putting out markers for a road would be built to a drilling site. The representative said the road and drilling rig would be onsite within four days and he had no time to make changes.

"If you have a mineral lease, they have the right to extract minerals," he said. "Just give a man fair notice, so he can take care of his business."

The bill calls for the commissioner of conservation to draw up rules that would call for 30-day notice of when the operation would begin laying down roads and a drilling pad but allows an exception if a lease would run out in less than 30 days.

"Most operators do it," Allain said. "Some don't."

He said the notice would give farmers time to relocate cattle, build new fences and reroute irrigation canals for crops.

Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, who is in the oil and gas extraction business, told Allain "We, as an industry, sometimes forget our manners."

Morris said he wants amendments attached to the bill that would penalize landowners who, with "malicious intent," do things that disrupt operations. He said he had one job during which the landowner used equipment to cut deep ruts across the road to the drilling site, piled large pieces of junk on the drilling pad and dumped trash in the drilling pits.

Allain jokingly said the landowner might have been mad because he didn't receive 30 days notice.

The bill had the support of Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. He told the committee that the bill deals with "sensitive issues. We're careful not to tread on areas we shouldn't and have unintended consequences."

Allain said he will work with Morris to develop amendments that address his concerns.

"It's amazing what can happen when we work together, hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya,'" he said.