What is KSONA? The Kansas legislature passed the Kansas Surface Owner Notification Act in its 2009 session. KSONA requires certain form submissions to be provided to the surface owner of the tract of land upon which the well sits. KSONA requires the KCC to provide this notice if the operator does not provide the surface owner with notice.
Does this apply to all operators? Yes, KSONA applies to all operators, without exception.
What forms are affected? Four forms are affected by the KSONA requirements: 1) intents to drill (Form C-1); 2) intents to drill for cathodic protection wellbores (Form CB-1); 3) well transfer forms (Form T-1); and 4) well plugging applications (Form CP-1).
How has the KCC changed its forms in response to KSONA? The above four forms must now be submitted concurrently with a Form KSONA-1. The Form KSONA-1 is fairly straightforward. It requires the operator to submit the surface owner's contact information. In addition, it requires the operator to state whether the operator has provided notice to the surface owner.
Am I required to pay a fee? Operators are not required to pay a fee if they provide notice to the surface owner. If the operator indicates on the Form KSONA-1 that notice has not been provided, then the KCC must provide the notice. This creates an administrative burden for the KCC, and thus a $30 fee must be submitted if the KCC is to provide the surface owner with notice. Under no circumstances is this fee refundable. If the operator wishes to have the KCC provide notice, the operator must still include the surface owner's contact information before the associated form will be approved. In most, if not all, situations, it would be to the benefit of the operator to provide the notice.
How should I pay the fee? The $30 fee is payable to the Kansas Corporation Commission and can be in the form of a money order, personal check, or bank draft, or if filing electronically, it can be paid by credit card or e-check. Cash payments will not be accepted.
What are the specific requirements for compliance with KSONA? A copy of the applicable form, and the accompanying Form KSONA-1, must be provided to the surface owner. Most of the required information is fairly self-explanatory from the fields on the forms, including operator and surface owner information. On the paper form, a legend has been added to the plat map on the second page of the intent to drill (Form C-1) to show lease roads, tank batteries, pipelines, and electrical lines. For electronic filing through KOLAR it is necessary to scan and attach a separate plat map showing the required KSONA-1 items.
How can I determine the identity and contact information for the surface owner? "Surface owner" is defined by KSONA as, in part, a person who is shown as the owner on the records of the county register of deeds, and who is assessed real estate property taxes in accordance with the records of the county treasurer. Tenants, or parties with an easement, right-of-way, license, mortgage lien, severed mineral interest, or any non-possessory interest in the surface, are not considered surface owners.
Will there ever be more than one surface owner? In most cases, there will only be one surface owner for a well. It is possible that situations may arise with more than one surface owner, and if that occurs, all surface owners must be provided notice.
If there is more than one surface owner, and the operator requests that the KCC mail the KSONA form, is the fee $30 total, or $30 per surface owner being notified? The $30 fee is assessed per surface owner being notified, and there is no maximum total fee.
Is there a penalty for the failure to comply with KSONA? Because this is a new process, the issue of penalties for noncompliance remains preliminary. Operators may be liable for penalties for intentionally submitting false information to the KCC. If operators fail to provide information required by KSONA or any required fee, this will result in a denial of the forms until the required information is submitted. If the requirements are not met, the forms will be sent back to the operator for resubmission, which could result in a delay in operations.
Form T-1 (Transfer) Questions
Who is responsible for completing and filing the Form KSONA-1 (Past Operator or New Operator)? The past operator is required to file the Form T-1 with the KCC and must also file the Form KSONA-1. If the past operator is no longer a viable KCC licensed operator, or is deceased, the new operator must file the notice with an accompanying lease assignment.
Are both signatures required before mailing to surface owner? Yes, unless the past operator is no longer a viable KCC licensed operator, or is deceased, then the new operator must file the notice with an accompanying lease assignment.
Intent to Drill (Form C-1)
What must be shown on the plat submitted with the KSONA-1 form? The plat map must show the well location and non-binding, preliminary estimates of the location of lease roads, tank batteries, pipelines, and electrical lines.
What are "nonbinding preliminary estimates?" The KCC interprets this phrase to mean the locations are the operator's best estimate at the time of the filing. Operators are not required to conform to the estimates provided on the form. Operators must again provide notice to the surface owner if the operator makes a correction or change to the Form C-1 plat.
Can I file only one KSONA-1 form if I am drilling more than one well on acreage owned by the same land owner? No. You must file a separate KSONA-1 form and plat for each intent to drill being filed.
Do I need to file a KSONA-1 form and plat map with the KCC if I am drilling on my own land? Yes, and you should indicate yourself as the surface owner on the Form KSONA-1.
Am I required to send the surface owner a copy of the intent to drill and plat map with the KSONA-1 form? Yes, a copy of the submitted (not necessarily KCC-approved) intent to drill, Form KSONA-1, and plat map must be provided to the surface owner.
Do I need to file a Form KSONA-1 when filing a corrected intent to drill? If the correction to the intent to drill is a change in the location of the well, then the Form KSONA-1 must be filed with the KCC, and the surface owner must be notified of the correction. Any change to the intent that does not alter the location of the well does not require another notification to the surface owner.