In 2014, the North Dakota Petroleum Council formed a Right-of-way Task Force to address the issues surrounding easements. The task force consisted of industry representatives, regulatory representatives and landowners (represented by the Northwest Landowners Association and Dunn County Landowners Association). Over the course of several months, the task force identified lack of information and unclear communication as one of the roadblocks between landowners and companies looking to obtain easements. With that in mind, this page and the following documents were created. This information is intended to serve as background and a starting point for landowners entering the easement process. In another effort to facilitate communication between industry and landowners, we’ll be working to create a easement resource liason in each county.
Issues associated with specific easements are difficult to understand and comprehend, but the North Dakota Petroleum Council Right of Way Task Force wants to make sure that you have the resources to understand the process and what you can expect if you have entered into an easement. Below are some frequently asked questions that should be able to answer, or assist you in answering, your questions. Each easement is unique and subject to different terms and governance by the specific easement terms. The information and answers provided in this document should not be construed as legal advice but are merely an attempt to provide guidance as appropriate.
Split estate ownership
The pipeline company will work with the landowner to negotiate an easement. The landowner and renters will need to work out any other agreements. We encourage the renter to contact the pipeline owner through the landowner to work-out the details of how to best complete both entities work without complications. Communication and planning is the key; it takes all three parties to be involved to make it work.
Typically a right of way agreement will include payment for loss of crop.
Right-sizing the pipeline infrastructure is extremely challenging as the Bakken technology continues to evolve. Nobody wants to get it right the first time more than the pipeline company but it’s a huge challenge and over-building without knowledge of what to expect simply does not make good business sense. Pipeline companies operate separately from the producer in most circumstances.
Companies have committed to addressing maintenance concerns as quickly and efficiently as possible. In the event that you identify a maintenance issue, we urge you to contact the pipeline operator and submit your concerns. Including photos is helpful. In addition, the North Dakota Industrial Commission has implemented a pipeline incident reporting process that will allow you to contact the Department of Mineral Resources to submit your complaint, and they will review and follow-up with the company as needed.
It is imperative that the landowner, who is on the land regularly, and the company maintain open communication, and that any issues are reported to the company immediately. In turn, the operating company must respond in a timely manner to assess and address the issue reported by the landowner.
Changes in ownership
Companies should notify the landowners when a change in ownership occurs and provide them with the updated contact information.
Annual payments are typically applied only to lands taken out of full production.
Restoration of fences to original condition
Installation of gates is the responsibility of the operating company through its construction contractor. All fences must be returned to original or better condition, and all gates must remain closed at all times, other than to let machinery pass.
Removal of uncovered rocks
Typically, rock will be removed from the right of way according to landowner requirements or according to what is reasonable as determined by the operating company.
Separate damage payments (renter and owner)
An easement agreement is with the landowner. Damages will need to be worked out amongst the three parties. If agreeable to the landowner, the company can work directly with the renter.
Placement of above ground structures – consult with landowner
Typically, the operating company will have a general idea of the necessary above ground facility needs and locations and should vet those locations with the landowner.
Disclosure from land agent
The landowner can expect the following information to be provided by the land agent:
Communication and conduct
The landowner can expect the following conduct from the land agent and the operating company:
Provided by: North Dakota Petroleum Council Right of Way Task Force, May 2014
2. Easement and Pipeline FAQ
How deep will the pipe be buried?
The standard depth is 4 feet to the top of the pipeline.
What is the size of the pipe?
The size of the pipe will vary dependent on a number of factors, including pressure and the product carried in the line. This should be identified on the summary page of the easement agreement. Generally, low pressure poly will range from 8-20” in diameter, and steel will range from 6-20” in diameter.
How thick is the pipe?
The wall thickness of a pipeline will vary, depending on the diameter of the pipeline. This should be identified on the summary page of the easement agreement.
For poly used to transport natural gas or natural gas liquids:
6” diameter = .491” thickness
10” diameter = .769” thickness
14” diameter = 1.037” thickness
For steel used to transport natural gas or natural gas liquids:
If laid pipeline, the wall thickness would be approximately .250”.
If bored pipeline, the wall thickness would be approximately .375”.
What pressure is the product under?
This should be identified on the summary page of the easement agreement.
Natural gas or natural gas liquids in a poly pipeline will typically range from 30-80 psi.
Natural gas or natural gas liquids in a steel pipeline will typically range from 800-1440 psi.
What product is going through the pipelines?
This will vary and should be identified on the summary page of the easement agreement.
Who do we call in case of an emergency?
In all emergency situations, please remain a safe distance away from the pipeline and contact the operating company’s 24 hour emergency number posted on the pipeline marker or the damage prevention information supplied to the landowner on an annual basis.
How many pipelines and trenches are included in the right of way?
The number of pipelines or trenches included within a right of way is dependent on the agreement. This should be identified on the summary page of the easement agreement. Typically, easements are negotiated for a single line, although some agreements are negotiated for multiple lines in corridor or high volume areas.
Can other pipelines be built in the same easement?
If the easement agreement is for multiple pipelines, yes. If the agreement is for a single line, the company will need to renegotiate the original easement or negotiate a new easement to lay additional lines within the existing right of way.
What is the procedure if more pipelines or larger pipes are to be installed later?
The procedures for installing more pipelines or larger pipelines at a later date from the signing of the easement will be governed by the terms of the easement as determined at the time of signature.
Is the pipeline company required to remove the line after it is no longer in service and clean up my property?
At the time of abandonment of a pipeline, the requirement of the company to remove or to purge and leave the line in place is governed by the terms of the easement agreement determined at signing. Common practice is to purge and leave the line in place as the removal of the line causes additional disruption to the land.
To what standards does the company have to reclaim the land?
The reclamation standards are determined during the negotiation of the easement agreement, but most standard agreement language defines performance as “to like condition prior to entering property”.
How do I remove the easement once the pipeline is abandoned?
If the easement has expired under the terms established at signing, the landowner may request a release from the operating company which would result in a title action to remove the easement.
Who has jurisdiction over the pipeline?
This will vary dependent on the type of pipeline and type of product carried within the pipeline. Below is general explanation of pipeline regulatory jurisdiction in North Dakota:
What are the federal, state and local rules regulating the pipeline?
This will vary dependent on the type of pipeline and type of product carried within the pipeline. For more information on rules regulating pipelines, please see the summary prepared by the North Dakota Legislative Management for the Interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee (3/4/14): http://www.legis.nd.gov/files/resource/committee-memorandum/15.9191.02000.pdf
What are the rules for construction, mitigation and reclamation?
This will vary dependent on the type of pipeline and type of product carried within the pipeline. Many operating companies construct all poly and steel pipelines per federal Department of Transportation regulation 192 to ensure the line meets all federal standards, should the line ever become regulated.
Provided by: North Dakota Petroleum Council Right of Way Task Force, May 2014
3. Land Agent Code of Conduct
Landowners have long been the stewards of North Dakota’s lands, working to ensure it provides bountiful harvests and supports livestock and wildlife. Companies seeking easements for pipelines and other underground facilities also facilitate stewardship of the land, ensuring it continues to protect their buried assets from damage while safely moving commodities to market. The landowner and pipeline company’s interests come together through the easement process to create an agreement of understanding, developed to protect each party’s interests, and ensure the land is maintained for its best productivity above and below ground.
When negotiating an easement, landowners will typically work with a land agent who is contracted by the company seeking the easement. In the negotiation process landowners can expect a certain code of conduct by the land agent, and that the information provided by the land agent is accurate and supported by the company the agent represents.
What the landowner should expect:
What the agent should deliver:
What the company should deliver:
Companies seeking easements should welcome landowner feedback and ideas on how to improve the process and relationships between industry and landowners. Building and maintaining positive and open relationships is beneficial to the interests of the landowner and the energy industry. The landowner can be the best pipelines best monitoring source, they see and know what’s happening on their property.
Provided by: North Dakota Petroleum Council Right of Way Task Force June 2014
4. Summary of the Project Scope
5. Pipeline incident report form