As an oil and gas attorney representing clients from all over Texas and from all over the world who have land in Texas, I have been getting quite a number of calls from people who signed a document before consulting an attorney and have lived to regret it, I’m sorry to say. It is apparent that there are a number of scams going on out there. One woman I talked to said that she was presented with a document that she was verbally told was merely permission to do seismic testing on her land. The document turned out to be an oil and gas lease. The terms were not very favorable to her and were substantially less than what the oil company was offering other lessors. Another woman called me recently to say that her elderly mother had signed a document that had been verbally represented to be an oil and gas lease. The document turned out to be a mineral deed, which means the woman had sold her minerals in their entirety forever!
Please folks, do not sign anything until you have a lawyer look at it. There are many honest oil companies and land men and women out there. However, even the honest oil companies are not going to offer you their best lease deal at first. In addition, oil and gas is an area that has its own language and concepts, and unless you have an oil and gas background, you are not going to be familiar with these. Finally, be aware that an oil and gas lease, in most cases, continues for as long as there is paying production, so that lease may be in place for your lifetime or longer.
Where a lease or deed has been obtained fraudulently, you may be able to sue to get the lease or deed canceled, but that is usually going to be a long, expensive and uncertain process. Please do yourself a favor: 1) do not sell your minerals, only lease them; 2) have an oil and gas attorney look at any document before you sign it, whether it is a seismic testing agreement, a pipeline easement or an oil and gas lease; and 3) please tell your elderly relatives to call you immediately if they are approached to sign anything, and not to meet with anyone about signing documents unless you are present.