Texas oil and gas companies can engage in a variety of procedures as part of their exploratory process before they drill an oil and gas well. One such procedure is seismic testing or a seismic survey. Seismic testing is a process that results in an image of the subsurface of property. The kind of seismic testing done most often in Texas uses a “thumper truck” which contains a large plate in the center of the truck that is thumped on the ground. The shock waves emanating from the thumping result in data that can be collected digitally and result in a map of the subsurface. Seismic testing can also be done by drilling shot holes into the ground, placing dynamite into the holes and then covering the holes over. When the dynamite is set off, the sound waves from the explosions generate data that, when collected, result in a map of the subsurface.
If you own the surface and the minerals, and you have not executed an oil and gas lease for the minerals, you do not have to allow seismic testing. However, if you sign an oil and gas lease, or if you don’t own the minerals and the mineral owner has signed an oil and gas lease, many leases allow for seismic testing. Of course, if you own the minerals and are signing an oil and gas lease, it may be important to limit or eliminate any right by the lessee to do seismic testing when you are negotiating the terms of that lease.
If a seismic test is going to be performed, it’s important to educate yourself about the test. Don’t sign the permit the testing company gives you. Instead, negotiate a permit that provides protections for the property. Things to consider include (but aren’t limited to):