You can however, read the lease and glean the basics, ie. lands leased, length of primary term, etc. Of course sometimes only a memorandum of lease is filed, and these above terms are all that you will know. If the lease is recorded, you can find out other things, like royalty, Pugh clauses, etc. But to know what happened to the lease, you need the drilling and production history as well.
Indices at courthouses in LA run by name, and not by tract, so you would need to know who owns the tract of land you wish to run at some point in time. Then you can follow the chain of ownership backwards or forwards.
LA is also different in that you don't actually own fugacious minerals (like oil and gas), you own the right to recover them. That's where the whole discussion of mineral servitudes come from, in that you can reserve your mineral rights, but such a reservation creates a servitude which is subject to extinguishment by non-use.
In order to verify which mineral servitudes may be in effect, as well as have an idea as to whether a lease is still in force, or has expired, or that certain acreage may have expired, you have to do research of the records of the DNR-Office of Conservation as to lands which may be pooled with your tract. Armed with that information, you can then start to determine whether certain leases or lease rights are still in force, and which ones may not be in force.
I guess the short answer to your question is that, barring really clean title and release(s) of every lease filed of record except for the current lease, it is usually difficult to only check the courthouse records and know the status of any lease.
As exciting as this is, we know that we have a responsibility to do this thing correctly. After all, we want the farm to remain a place where the family can gather for another 80 years and beyond. This site was born out of these desires. Before we started this site, googling "shale' brought up little information. Certainly nothing that was useful as we negotiated a lease. Read More