An Oklahoma City energy company has sued Canadian County in hopes of getting a fair price for property on which it plans to drill an oil and gas well.
Chaparrel Energy Co. filed its lawsuit in Canadian County District Court on Oct. 2. It is seeking the appointment of three appraisers to make recommendations concerning the amount of damages which may be caused by Chaparral’s drilling operations on county property.
The property in question is near Manning Road and is on property owned by the Canadian County Public Facilities Authority.
It is adjacent to the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center and is near one of two locations being considered as a site for the future county fairgrounds complex.
While the county owns the land, it does not own the mineral rights.
Chaparral announced plans last week to build a permanent site pad, as well as storage containers on the site.
The county’s property could be taken by eminent domain by the energy company.
The appraisers would determine the value of the property.
The commissioners discussed the lawsuit during an executive session Monday. Following 45 minutes behind closed doors, they did not make a recommendation, other than to ask their attorney to continue negotiating with Chaparral.
However, during a public facilities board meeting Oct. 2, commissioners expressed concerns about the location of the drilling site, which is near the southeast corner of the property nearest State Highway 66.
The authority’s attorney, Gabe Bass, said the surface damage act tries to balance the surface owner’s rights along with those of the mineral owner.
In this case, Chaparall is the mineral owner.
“The mineral owner has the right under Oklahoma law for reasonable use of the surface to explore for and produce their minerals,” Bass said.
But as a result, the producer must pay for the property they are using.
Bass said that because the company has filed their case in district court, they can move forward with the construction of their pad.
Bass said the court will appoint three appraisers who will determine the value of the property.
Once that value is determined, he said, the commissioners have the option of accepting the offer or taking it to a jury trial.
It is much like a condemnation case, he said.
“The location couldn’t be much worse,” said District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader.
Bass also said that the commissioners have no say where the drilling location is.
“They get to pick the spot,” he said. “They just have to pay for the damages. Whatever those are determined to be.”