Dormant mineral rights are the central focus of a new House bill in Texas (PDF). Currently, 21 states have some form of a dormant minerals act. I have included a spreadsheet that outlines them by state. It was kindly provided to me by fellow NARO board member Linn Willers at Wachovia.
There seems to be consensus that the intent of such acts is to encourage oil and gas production by making it easier to contact mineral owners. The assumption is that after a number of years have passed (the number varies by state) since the severing of the minerals from the surface, the mineral owner could be difficult to find. This in turn could make it difficult for the operator to track them down for leasing purposes, which would delay production. Although this is well intended, it can also mean that an owner’s descendents could loose their right to production if the owner was not proactive in maintaining affidavits of ownership (example from Linn).
Although I could probably make arguments for both sides, I’m merely pointing out that dormant minerals acts are here and it is the responsibility of mineral owners to file affidavits of ownership in states that require it. The alternative of course is to do nothing and risk loosing your right to future bonuses and production.
We have made preparing these affidavits very easy for users of MineralFile. They can simply print reports detailing their ownership in each state and county for filing purposes. We encourage you to take a free test drive of MineralFile to help you with this process.