The short answer is yes they are.
While the surface estate is subservient to the mineral estate, that does not mean that oil & gas companies can access your surface and do as they please without paying for the damages they cause.This should be inclusive of roads, pipelines, drilling locations, tank battery sites, and other disturbed lands.
Should you own both the surface and minerals I would highly advise you to have a surface use agreement that you have the company sign when they lease your minerals which clearly defines how the company can use the surface and exactly what damages are to be paid. I would also advise that this agreement be recorded in the county records with the lease.
While the oil companies are required to pay damages there is a wide variation to their willingness to pay adequately and when there is a disagreement it will have to be left up to the courts to decide the issue. You avoid this hassle and cost by negotiating the surface use agreement up front.
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