The granting of an oil and gas lease carries with it the implied right to use as much of the surface area as is reasonably necessary for the development of the mineral interest. Only when the lessee goes beyond what is reasonably necessary and negligently injures the surface area will the lessee become liable for damages to the holder of the surface estate. Likewise, the lessee is under no legal obligation to restore the surface area to its condition prior to the commencement of operations.
For better protection, the landowner should insert some provisions in the lease pertaining to surface damages. For instance, a lease clause requiring compensation for all surface damages will render the lessee liable even though the injuries were incurred during the reasonable development of the mineral lease.
When compensation is required, it is commonly made "at the site" when drilling or production operations cease. In order to avoid any conflicts in this matter, the landowner should consider the following lease options.