Back to Publications

Adverse Possession of Severed Mineral Interests

Eugene Kuntz, Proceedings of 5th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1960)

A. Principles of Adverse Possession

Although special problems are presented with regard to adverse possession of oil and gas and other mineral rights, the fundamentals of adverse possession necessarily are involved and might be considered by way of introduction. To the extent that generalization is possible, it may be said that title to oil and gas as well as other mineral rights may be acquired by open, notorious, hostile and continuous use and occupancy which is inconsistent with the rights of the true owner and which continues for the period of time prescribed by statute. Various elements such as payment of taxes and the claiming under particular types of instruments are matters of local law.

The policy and purpose which underlies statutes of limitations and the acquisition of title by adverse possession is the quieting of titles by barring stale claims. [410] The objective is accomplished by barring the right of action of an owner to recover possession. When such right of action is barred, the title of the former owner is extinguished as a necessary consequence. In some states, there is specific statutory provision to the effect that the adverse possessor acquires title after the expiration of the prescribed period of adverse possession. Ordinarily, from either approach, title is deemed to have vested as a new and independent title as of the time that adv