Trey Murphy is a grad student in North Carolina, but he has dreams of owning land in west Texas. A few months ago, he was looking at real estate online and came across something strange.
“I saw that there was this particular listing that was selling the surface estate, but not willing to sell the wind estate,” he says.
Most people would have no idea what that means. But Murphy is originally from Texas, and, as luck would have it, he studies “energy geography.” He knows that in Texas, one tract of land can be owned in different ways by different people.
“It is very common to sever the surface estate from the mineral estate,” he says.
That means Person A can own the surface rights to land, allowing them to build on the property or raise crops, while Person B can own the subsurface or “mineral” rights to the property, allowing them to drill for oil.
“My intuition,” says Murphy, “is that people are just applying the same logic to the wind.”