Most Americans don’t realize just how strange it is that in the United States the owner of a surface lot also has the subsoil rights in a wedge down to the center of the Earth. We are the only country which does this. (Yup, not even Britain or Canada; although Alaska also kept subsoil rights separate from surface deeds.)
In terms of subsoil exploitation, the U.S. system is full of economic drawbacks. Mineral deposits don’t line-up nicely with surface lines. But it creates a huge political benefit: people get royalties for minerals and hydrocarbons found under their lands. That immediately creates an important constituency for development in American communities. And the royalties are big: 18%-25% in the case of hydrocarbons.
It seems as though the authors of Mexico’s new hydrocarbon law tried to do that in Article 101, which establishes that the owners of lands “needed to carry out exploration and extraction” will be entitled to a share of the profits. A small share, but a share.
The big problem is that it is still not clear whether people whose lands aren’t being used for anything except the hydrocarbons under them will be entitled to receive the payments. A smaller problem is that the payments are tiny, and come out of earnings rather than gross revenues.
Developing. This will not be as dramatic as opening non-Pemex gas stations in 2017, but it could be rather more important.