2017 Nebraska Revised Statutes
Chapter 57 - MINERALS, OIL, AND GAS
57-229 Mineral interests; severed; abandonment; extension; procedure.
Mineral interests; severed; abandonment; extension; procedure.
A severed mineral interest shall be abandoned unless the record owner of such mineral interest has within the twenty-three years immediately prior to the filing of the action provided for in sections 57-228 to 57-231, exercised publicly the right of ownership by (1) acquiring, selling, leasing, pooling, utilizing, mortgaging, encumbering, or transferring such interest or any part thereof by an instrument which is properly recorded in the county where the land from which such interest was severed is located; or (2) drilling or mining for, removing, producing, or withdrawing minerals from under the lands or using the geological formations, or spaces or cavities below the surface of the lands for any purpose consistent with the rights conveyed or reserved in the deed or other instrument which creates the severed mineral interest; or (3) recording a verified claim of interest in the county where the lands from which such interest is severed are located. Such a claim of interest shall describe the land and the nature of the interest claimed, shall properly identify the deed or other instrument under which the interest is claimed, shall give the name and address of the person or persons claiming the interest, and shall state that such person or persons claim the interest and do not intend to abandon the same. The interest of any such owner shall be extended for a period of twenty-three years from the date of any such acts; Provided, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to mineral interests of which the State of Nebraska or any of its political subdivisions is the record owner.
- Laws 1967, c. 348, § 2, p. 925.
In order for owners of severed mineral interests to publicly exercise their rights of ownership, they must strictly comply with the statutory requirements of this section prior to the date an action is filed by the surface owner. Rice v. Bixler, 289 Neb. 194, 854 N.W.2d 565 (2014).
Reference to an unrecorded deed that may or may not exist does not establish the proper chain of ownership necessary to comply with the requirements for filing a verified claim. Rice v. Bixler, 289 Neb. 194, 854 N.W.2d 565 (2014).
Severed mineral owners must strictly comply with the statutory requirements of this section. Rice v. Bixler, 289 Neb. 194, 854 N.W.2d 565 (2014).
The “record owner” of mineral interests, as used in this section, includes an individual identified by probate records in the county where the interests are located. Gibbs Cattle Co. v. Bixler, 285 Neb. 952, 831 N.W.2d 696 (2013).
The transfer of ownership occurred years after the enactment of the dormant mineral statutes and prevented the abandonment of the severed mineral interests for at least 23 years into the future. The appellants had the full 23-year period specified in this section to publicly exercise their right of ownership so as to prevent abandonment of the mineral interests. Peterson v. Sanders, 282 Neb. 711, 806 N.W.2d 566 (2011).
Nebraska's dormant mineral statutes expressly require the record owner of a severed mineral interest to publicly exercise the right of ownership by performing one of the actions specified in this section during the statutory dormancy period. Ricks v. Vap, 280 Neb. 130, 784 N.W.2d 432 (2010).
The plain language of this section provides that a severed mineral interest is abandoned unless the record owner of the interest is the one who publicly exercises it. Ricks v. Vap, 280 Neb. 130, 784 N.W.2d 432 (2010).
Sections 57-228 to 57-231 which declared that mineral rights were abandoned unless the record owner had exercised ownership rights within twenty-three years immediately prior to the filing of an action to cancel the severed mineral interest, are unconstitutional insofar as the statutory provisions could be interpreted to be retroactive in their operation. Monahan Cattle Co. v. Goodwin, 201 Neb. 845, 272 N.W.2d 774 (1978); Wheelock & Manning 00 Ranches, Inc. v. Heath, 201 Neb. 835, 272 N.W.2d 768 (1978).