By Act No. 342 of its 2016 Regular Session, the Louisiana Legislature amended La. R.S. 30:28, which addresses the issuance of drilling permits, by adding a new subsection J. Under this new La. R.S. 30:28(J) and effective August 1, 2016, no later than 30 days after the issuance of an amended permit to transfer a well to another operator, an operator is required to identify on a form approved by the Commissioner of Conservation the surface owner of lands on which the well site is located. Surface owner is defined as the person shown in the assessor’s rolls of the parish as the current owner of the surface rights for the land on which the well site is located.
Before La. R.S. 30:28(J) was enacted, the new operator of the well was only required to submit a Form MD-10-R-A (also known as the pink card) or, if multiple wells were being transferred to a new operator, a Form MD-10-R-AO (also known as the blue card). For a change of operatorship submitted on or after August 1, 2016, the operator must submit—in addition to the MD-10-R-A form or MD-10-R-AO form, whichever applies–the new form SOCI. Note that a separate form SOCI is required per surface owner. In the case of multiple wells being transferred, all of the wells must be listed on a form SOCI. Curiously, neither the Legislature nor the Office of Conservation requires an operator to identify any surface owners in submitting an initial permit for a well; thus, at this time, if operatorship never changes, no filings relating to surface ownership are required.
If you have any questions about changing the operator of a well, please do not hesitate to contact us.