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The Play special series: Get it in writing when talking oil and gas

By By Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Jan. 28, 2012 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 28, 2012 at 7:29 p.m.

Kinder Morgan is building a pipeline across DeWitt County, the contents of which will ultimately be received at the Houston Ship Channel. The company is constructing 61 miles of new pipeline and converting an existing 109 miles of natural gas pipeline for the project. The line is expected to be in service later this year.

GONZALES - On a biting cold day at the beginning of January, a legal expert on oil and gas issues arrived in Gonzales to speak to farmers and ranchers about what they need to know when signing a lease with an oil company or dealing with a pipeline company.

More than 100 people gathered in the hall of the First Lutheran Church. Men in thick coats sat at round tables clutching white styrofoam cups that looked doll-sized in their large hands. Fingers stroked chins and eyes followed Judon Fambrough, a slim man in jeans with tussled gray hair who rolled up his shirt sleeves as he walked to the front of the room.

"I'm going to make you smarter than the average landowner when it comes to negotiating these deals," Fambrough of Texas A&M said.

The lease is what is important, Fambrough told his audience, his sharp eyes scanning their faces

"The guiding principle is that they have the rights here, and you have to take them away through your lease," he told the crowd.

He repeated his advice:

•  If you want an oil company to clean up the drill site or to use their own water to frack the well, it needs to be in the lease.

•  If you want a company to bury the pipe 48 inches, instead of the standard 36 inches, it needs to be in the lease.

"I've got a little bit of biblical advice for you. When you're leasing, 'Ye have not because ye ask not.' It's up to you to ask for what you want. They aren't going to give you anything," he said.

The wind rattled the windows and doors, but the audience stayed focused on Fambrough, taking notes and turning and nodding to each other when he hit a point that resonated.

The Eagle Ford Shale play is booming. Lives are changing, and money is pouring into pockets, but a deal is not as simple as a signature and a handshake. The Victoria Advocate's ongoing series on the Eagle Ford Shale play continues Sunday with a look at the legal issues that come with landmen, leasing mineral rights, and pipeline company representatives knocking at your door.

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