The Texas School Land Board announced new policies in response to the covid pandemic. These policies apply to Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF) lands that are subject to the Texas Relinquishment Act, Texas Natural Resources Code 52.171 through 52.190. According to the General Land Office (GLO) website: “The policies delegates the Land Commissioner the authority to grant up to a six-month extension on all drilling commitments, when it’s deemed to be in the state’s best interest, made by lessees of permanent school fund property during 2020, and a 90-day tolling on calculations for enforcing lease terminations for halting of production or failure to produce in paying quantities. Additional actions include adopting a policy addressing a waiver of penalties and interest on late royalty payments submitted from April 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 in light of the current oil and gas crisis facing the nation.”
Owners of school lands who observe operators on their property who are not drilling or who have producing wells on their property that have ceased production, need to be aware that the cessation of drilling or production may not be a default under the lease, at least until the grace period imposed by the GLO has expired. Keep in mind that, given the other pressures the oil industry is suffering from at the moment, it would not be surprising to see these waivers extended.