An Oil-Land Law
- George Otis Smith
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Transactions of the AIME
- Publication Date
- December 1915
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 443 - 450
- 1915. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.6 Natural Gas
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- 184 since 2007
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That an oil-land law is the most needed item in the proposed program ofmineral-land legislation follows, from the fact that Congress has never enacteda law really applicable to petroleum and natural gas. The action of Congress in1891 in, authorizing entry of oil lands under the placer law, enacted 21 yearsbefore for the mining of gold in surface gravels, was plainly only, makeshiftlegislation. Naturally the provisions of this placer law with its requirement,of discovery as a. prerequisite to location are nothing less than absurd whenapplied to petroleum deposits, hundreds or thousands of feet beneath thesurface. Other reasons which 'render oil-land legislation an urgent? necessityarise first from the large acreage of lands believed to be valuable for theirdeposits of oil and gas and therefore withdrawn by Executive order from allentry pending the enactment of an appropriate law for their disposition-awithdrawal that has been specially ratified by Congress in the case of oneState, Utah-and second from the exceptional importance of this resource to thenation, the large industrial worth of petroleum, and indeed its paramount valueto the navy, not being suspected 17 years ago when Congress last legislatedupon this subject.
Mineral land of this type is also well adapted to serve for purposes ofillustration in discussing the general principles that demand recognition inlegislative reform. Most of the issues involved in the consideration ofoil-land legislation are clean-cut, and essential differences of opinion willbe seen to be based upon radical divergence in economic theory rather than uponconflicting views concerning unimportant details.
For the last five years or more the geologists of the Federal Survey havediscussed this subject and prepared memorandums and reports on the variousbills introduced in Congress. Most of the provisions suggested ill the presentoutline have been under consideration at one time or another during thatperiod, and many of the statements which follow can be said to represent theconsensus of opinion among those of us who, both in the field and in theoffice, have given special attention to the public oil lands.
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