Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 5. Surface Owner Damage and Disruption Compensation

Surface Damage And Disruption Payments -- Dispute Resolution -- Penalty For Late Payment

82-10-504. Surface damage and disruption payments -- dispute resolution -- penalty for late payment. (1) (a) The surface owner and the oil and gas developer or operator shall attempt to negotiate in good faith an agreement on damages. The oil and gas developer or operator shall pay the surface owner a sum of money or other compensation equal to the amount of damages sustained by the surface owner for loss of agricultural production and income, lost land value, and lost value of improvements caused by oil and gas operations.

(b) The amount of damages may be determined by any formula mutually agreeable between the surface owner and the oil and gas developer or operator. When determining damages, consideration must be given to the period of time during which the loss occurs.

(c) At any time during the negotiation, at the request of either party and upon mutual agreement, the surface owner and the oil and gas developer or operator may enter into a dispute resolution process, including mediation.

(d) The surface owner may elect to receive annual damage payments over a period of time, except that the surface owner must be compensated by a single sum payment for harm caused by exploration only.

(e) The payments under this subsection (1) may cover only land directly affected by oil and gas operations and production. Payments under this subsection (1) are intended to compensate the surface owner for damage and disruption. A person may not reserve or assign damage and disruption compensation apart from the surface estate except to a tenant of the surface estate.

(2) An oil and gas developer or operator who fails to timely pay an installment under any annual damage agreement negotiated with a surface owner is liable for payment to the surface owner of twice the amount of the unpaid installment if the installment payment is not paid within 60 days of receipt of notice of failure to pay from the surface owner.

History: En. Sec. 4, Ch. 199, L. 1981; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 497, L. 1985; (2)En. Sec. 3, Ch. 497, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 57, L. 2007; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 345, L. 2013.