Thankfully that’s not the case in the U.S.
There’s surface ownership and mineral ownership and, in urban areas, they are usually severed. That’s not necessarily the case and in rural areas they are quite often held by the same party or parties. The feds own a lot of both.
In the case of Jesse’s loot, I think you’d need to cut some kind of exploration for treasure deal along the lines of a mineral exploration lease before announcing your discovery.
In the case of Jed and the happily fleet footed rabbit (and pretty much the same would apply to the gold discovery), should you discover some bubblin’ crude you need to keep your mouth shut until you ascertain the mineral ownership. If you own mineral rights, everything’s fine; if not, you need to take a mineral lease from the mineral owner. This is pretty common stuff - you offer them a deal and they may refuse it or counteroffer or accept. One way or another you work your way to an executed lease that will likely have a 3 to 5 year term, often w/rentals due annually.
Once you’ve arrived at the point of having a lease you can exploit the reservoir yourself, but it would probably be more efficient to get an oil company to do that for you. First thing you’d do is hire a consulting geologist or geophysicist to evaluate the area, so you know what it is you’re trying to sell to an oil company. They would use their resources to find out what data exist that might reveal the nature of your reservoir.
From this point there are many scenarios that can develop, so I’ll try and keep it simple. Anyway, you arrive at what you’re willing to spend to get the reservoir characterization accomplished and start calling oil companies. Your consultant, as well as the contract landman I hope you used to take the lease (yes, you can find’em in the phone book) can help you pitch your deal to the oil companies.
At this point, you’ve paid for the lease(s), the landman, the geoscience consultant, whatever data you deemed necessary and your pitch package (drafted maps, data, exhibits, deal summary, etc.). Generalizing, I’d say that something that was discovered close enough to the surface to be revealed by a .22 caliber bullet (or a 105 mm Howitzer, for that matter - but who hunts bunnies w/them?) is not something that will have a great areal extent or much in the way of existing data available. If you’re as frugal as I imagine the pre-Beverly Hills Clampetts (SP?), you might have somewhere between $15,000 to $100,000 in the deal so far (this is verygeneral, more meant to give a look at the process).
So now you’ve got a deal to pitch to the companies that do this sort of thing. There’s a thousand shades of them, and that many more variations on what deal you might make.
A typical deal you might make would have them pay 100% of the cost of your expenditures so far and 100% cost of the first test well, and they get 75% of the net revenue (NRI) while you get 25% of the NRI. The 100% of your costs so far would include your “promote” which is basically getting paid for your time (add $10,000 to $1,000,000 to invoice cost). You would also, at some point, have to start contributing your 25% share of operating and drilling expenses. When you cut your original deal with the landowner you paid him some kind of bonus for the lease, and cut some deal on the royalty (ORRI), or override. When you cut your deal with the oil company, you retained some of this ORRI. These are percentage points that generate revenue for you without a concommitant obligation in operating expense.
As I’m sure you can tell, I can go on and on about this. And what I’ve given you here is an answer to your question, but I’m poopin’ out…
So, to wrap it up, you make your deal w/XYZ Drilling and Exploitation, Inc. (after you’ve checked out their previous history) and they take over operations. They may well decide to conduct additional data acquisition efforts prior to drilling the test; make sure your deal with them allows you access to these data.
Anyway, the happy ending version…
They drill a discovery well and begin an ambitious exploitation program. You will start receiving run checks and you really don’t have to screw with it much more. If everybody is in “snap to” mode, your first check arrives about two years after you missed the bunny.
There’s a whole lot of variations, but this is the basic how you turn that bubblin’ crude into a check (which I presume you know how to turn into cash).