North Dakota Mediation Service
Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has authorized the North Dakota Department of Agriculture's mediation service to assist surface owners and energy companies in resolving split estate surface damages disputes.
The North Dakota Mediation Service (NDMS) is a voluntary, non-binding mediation program available to help resolve disputes between farmers/surface owners and other parties. The service provides formal mediation which brings disagreeing parties together in an attempt to resolve their differences without the need of expensive and time-consuming litigation.
The mediator appointed by the NDMS is a neutral and impartial third party with extensive experience in the mediation process. The mediation process cannot begin until both parties have consented. Trained in problem-solving techniques, the mediator helps create an environment in which the disagreeing parties can resolve their differences.
Participating in voluntary mediation does not waive either parties’ rights under the North Dakota Oil and Gas Production Compensation Act, including the operator’s right to access the surface estate upon complying with the terms and provisions of Section 38-11.1-05 (20 days written notice to surface owner, offer of settlement damages, et. al).
The NDMS has posted an 84 percent agreement rate on agricultural issues during the past five years.
The cost of this mediation program is minimal. If your company does encounter a dispute with a surface owner, you may want to consider this alternative dispute resolution process. For further information on the program, please contact the North Dakota Department of Agriculture at 701-328-2061. You can also visit www.nd.gov/ndda/program/mediation-services to learn more about this service.
How does the process work?
1. Any party eligible for mediation may request services from the administrator of the NDMS. The request
must be made in writing and should contain contact information for the party with whom mediation is
being requested (opposing party).
2. Upon receipt of a request for mediation, the NDMS will contact the opposing party and inform them of
the mediation request.
3. If the opposing party declines to participate in mediation, the requesting party will be notified in
writing of their decision.
4. If the opposing party agrees to participate in mediation, the NDMS will assign a mediator.
5. The mediator shall manage the mediation process including keeping the parties informed of the
process; working with the parties to find an acceptable time and place for the mediation; and to
facilitate communication between the parties in an effort to reach a positive solution to the issues that
are important to the parties. The mediator will act in accordance with North Dakota and national
standards for mediation practice and ethics.
6. If an agreement is reached, the mediator will write the agreement and acquire signatures of all the
parties. All parties will receive a copy of the agreement.
7. All parties to the mediation will be billed $25.00 per hour for time spent at the table.
Contact information for mediation service regarding oil disputes:
Tom Silbernagel, Administrator
ND Department of Agriculture
ND Mediation Service
600 E Boulevard Ave., Dept. 602
Bismarck ND 58505-0020
1-800-642-4752 (ND only)