Pipeline construction projects play a vital role in facilitating the transportation of energy resources. However, obtaining the necessary rights of way (ROW) for such projects can be complex, requiring careful planning, communication, and adherence to legal and environmental considerations.
A pipeline right of way (ROW) agreement is a legal contract between the pipeline developer and the landowner that grants the developer the necessary rights to construct, operate, and maintain a pipeline on the landowner’s property. The specific elements involved in a ROW agreement may vary depending on the project and jurisdiction. This article focuses on the major elements typically included in pipeline ROWs.
Grant of Easement: This section outlines the landowner’s grant of an easement to the pipeline developer, allowing them access to a specific portion of the property for pipeline construction, operation, and maintenance purposes. It defines the boundaries of the easement area and the rights and restrictions associated with it. The Grantor may be a private party, the federal government (e.g., Bureau of Land Management, or BLM), state agency or a sovereign tribe.
Pipeline Specifications: This section describes the technical specifications of the pipeline, including its diameter, materials, depth, and any other relevant design parameters. It ensures that the pipeline conforms to industry standards and regulatory requirements.
Term and Renewal: The agreement specifies the duration of the easement, typically for the expected operational life of the pipeline, usually several decades or more. It may also include provisions for automatic renewal or options for renewal upon mutually agreed terms.
Compensation and Damages: The compensation payable to the landowner for granting the easement. It outlines the payment structure, including one-time lump sum payments, annual payments, or a combination of both. Additionally, it may include provisions for addressing damages caused to the property during construction and ongoing maintenance, such as crop loss, damage to structures, or environmental remediation.
Access and Construction: This section outlines the rights and obligations related to access to the property for construction, including the construction timeline, methods and procedures. It may also address issues such as safety, traffic management and reclamation requirements post-construction, especially when working on BLM land.
Operation and Maintenance: This element covers the ongoing operation and maintenance of the pipeline. It may include provisions related to inspections, repairs, vegetation management, erosion control and liability for any damages caused by pipeline operation.
Indemnification and Liability: This section addresses the allocation of liability between the parties. It may include indemnification clauses to protect the landowner(s) from any claims arising from the pipeline’s operation, such as environmental contamination or accidents.
Termination and Abandonment: The agreement outlines the conditions under which the easement may be terminated, such as breach of contract or non-compliance with regulations. It may also include provisions for the pipeline developer’s responsibility for the removal and reclamation of the pipeline in the event of abandonment.
Governing Law and Dispute Resolution: This element specifies the jurisdiction and laws that govern the agreement. It may also include a mechanism for dispute resolution, such as arbitration or mediation, to resolve any conflicts that may arise between the parties. Depending on the nature of the Grantor, specialized land and legal expertise may be needed.
It is important to note that the specific terms and conditions of a pipeline ROW agreement should be carefully reviewed by experienced land management and legal counsel to ensure they comply with local laws, regulations, and industry standards while protecting the rights and interests of both the landowner and the pipeline developer.
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Renewables Project Manager
T: (303) 298 – 8108