The Placer Law as Applied to Petroleum
- Max W. Ball (U.S. Geological Survey)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Transactions of the AIME
- Publication Date
- December 1915
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 451 - 470
- 1915. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 7.5.3 Professional Registration/Cetification
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An intelligent discussion of the oil situation and its needs, whether from the standpoint of the prospector, the operator, the engineer, or the public administrative officer, must be founded upon a knowledge of the law under which oil lands are obtained. A consideration of new legislation must be prefaced by an understanding of the present law and its results. This paper undertakes to present no new remedy for the ills of the present situation, no new solution of the problems the oil business is facing. It attempts merely to summarize the present law, its provisions, its origin, its development, and its effects. The discussion does not pretend to be exhaustive from a legal standpoint. It aims to avoid legal intricacies which tend to confuse rather than clarify. It seeks but to present the essentials of the existing situation.
The title to government lands known to contain valuable deposits of petroleum may be acquired only under the terms of, the placer law as embodied in Section 2329 et seq. of the Revised Statutes. As a preliminary to considering the desirability of this situation it is profitable to examine into its origin.
Origin of the Law
Congress has left no room for doubt as to the legal applicability of the placer law to oil lands. The Act of Feb. 11,1897(29 Stat., 526),provides:
"that any person authorized to enter lands under the mining laws of the United States may enter and obtain patent to land containing petroleum or other mineral oils, and chiefly valuable therefore, under the provisions of the laws relating to placer mineral claims.?
The immediate cause for the passage of this Act was stated in a brief report in the House of Representatives (there was no debate in the Senate) to be a decision of the Department rendered Aug. 27, 1896 (Union Oil Co., 23 L. D.,223), directing the cancellation of an oil placer entry on the ground that land containing petroleum cannot be located and entered as a placer mine.
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