The Rule of Capture: The Least Worst Property Rule for Oil and Gas
This chapter analyses the rule of capture as applied to oil and gas. The rule states that oil and gas become the property of the owner of the land on which they are recovered by lawful drilling or other operations, regardless of whether they might have migrated from their original position under the land of another. Capture remains today the property right principle on which the structure of United States oil and gas law and regulation has been erected. The chapter addresses the following questions: Why was such an inefficient rule adopted in the first place? Why, once adopted, did it remain in place in the United States, despite the major difficulties it was perceived to create, and when other countries were succeeding in creating more rational and efficient systems?
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