Archives: Oil and Gas

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Supreme Court of Texas Holds Strip-And-Gore Doctrine Does Not Make Adjacent Landowners Mandatory Parties

On Feb. 3, 2017, the Supreme Court of Texas held that adjacent landowners were not mandatory parties to a lessor’s suit against the lessee for failure to make royalty payments if the adjacent landowners had not claimed any interest relating to the lawsuit. In short, “Rule 39 does not require joinder of persons who potentially … Continue Reading

85th Texas Legislature: Oil and Gas Roundup

On Jan. 10, 2017, the 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature convened in Austin, and already several bills are on the table that, if adopted, could impact the oil and gas industry in Texas. State Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, has introduced the Oil and Gas Majority Rights Protection Act for Secondary and Tertiary Recovery … Continue Reading

Struggling to Produce: Heirs to Claimed Royalty Interest Acquired in Late 1800s in 9,200-acre Tract in Texas Fail to Pass Procedural Hurdles to Asserting Their Claims for Superior Title and Unpaid Royalties Against Multiple Oil and Gas Companies

On Monday, Oct. 10, 2016, dozens of claimed heirs to a one-half mineral interest allegedly obtained in the late 1800s in a 9,200-acre tract of land in Brooks County, Texas, filed a Petition for Review with the Texas Supreme Court, claiming that the Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio erred in upholding the Brooks … Continue Reading

Eighth Circuit Holds Nonoperating Working Interest Owner and Engineering Contractor Not Liable For Negligence of On-Site ‘Company Hand’

On Aug. 5, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of a nonoperating working interest owner, Oasis, and its engineering subcontractor, RPM Consulting, holding that neither owed a duty of care to an employee of a drilling rig operator. North Dakota, like Texas and other states, … Continue Reading

Federal Reserve Proposes Rules Aimed at Banks Owning, Trading and Moving Commodities

On Sept. 23, 2016, the Federal Reserve issued proposed rules[1] that could put pressure on investment banks, such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, to divest certain energy assets and energy trading activities. Over the past decade, environmental catastrophes involving physical commodities, such as Deepwater Horizon and Fukushima, have led to monetary damages ranging from … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court to Hear Case on “Capability of Production” Under Shut-In Clause

On Sept. 2, the Texas Supreme Court granted review in a case that may clarify when a shut-in well’s capacity for production in paying quantities is determined.  In BP America Production Company v. Red Deer Resources, LLC, No. 15-0569, the court will be reviewing a ruling from the 7th Court of Appeals (Amarillo) that upheld … Continue Reading

Cabot Oil & Gas Continues to Fight $4.24 Million Federal Court Jury Verdict on Landowners’ Nuisance and Negligence Claims

After a recent round of post-trial motion briefing in Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Case No. 3:09-cv-02284-MCC (M.D. Pa.), it appears one of the most heavily publicized landowner lawsuits against an exploration and development company in recent memory may still be far from over. This protracted legal battle originally began in 2009, when … Continue Reading

The Continued Attempt to End Shale Development in Colorado – This Time Through the Voter Initiative

An attempt to put restrictions on shale development, so as to effectively end it, is nothing new in Colorado. Just this year, several Democrats attempted to push a bill through the Colorado House of Representatives that would have given local governments specific authority to regulate the siting of oil and gas facilities. The Colorado House … Continue Reading

Oil and Gas: Managing Personnel Reductions and Asset Sales Under Increasing Government Audit and Enforcement Scrutiny

As oil enters the ninth month of sub-$50 per barrel prices – and natural gas languishes below $3 per MMBtu – the oil and gas industry confronts a challenging time of transition. Layoffs have already happened (or are imminently looming) for some exploration and production companies. Non-core assets have been sold or are on the … Continue Reading

Midstream Gathering Agreements Targeted by Recent Oil & Gas Bankruptcies

Continuing low oil and natural gas commodity prices have led to bargain prices at the pump, but also high tension in many boardrooms. This strain on the industry has resulted in many exploration and production, or “E&P,” companies seeking relief from high debt and reduced revenue in bankruptcy. In recent cases, those E&P companies have … Continue Reading

Crude-by-Rail Update: Largest West Coast Terminal Proposal Suffocating Under Delay

The largest proposed crude-by-rail (CBR) transloading facility on the West Coast recently survived a major hurdle to its ultimate construction and operation—a lease extension. But with the proposed project enduring nearly three years of permitting delay while navigating Washington State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) process, the lease extension may come as too little … Continue Reading

Moratorium on New Oil and Gas Operations Lifted in Adams County

On Tuesday, Adams County, Colorado, commissioners lifted a six-week moratorium on new oil and gas drilling operations in urban areas. The moratorium, previously approved by the county commissioners in early February following contentious public debate about a proposed 10-month moratorium, applied to new permits for wells or well pads within 1,500 feet of homes, schools … Continue Reading

EQT Wins a Temporary Victory, but the Future of Oil and Gas Operations in Fayette County, West Virginia, Is Still Undecided

EQT Corp. won a temporary victory in its continuing effort to defend against the potential shutdown of its 200 oil and gas wells and one wastewater injection well in Fayette County, West Virginia, after the District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia issued a preliminary injunction on February 8 enjoining the enforcement of … Continue Reading

Recent Federal Legislation Rings In the New Year With Some Exciting Developments for Both the Renewable and Oil Energy Industries

On December 18, 2015, the current divided United States Congress, which has not been known for many grand compromises, passed an omnibus spending bill featuring key measures related to renewable energy tax credits and to the export of crude oil produced in the United States. President Obama signed the legislation, known as the Protecting Americans … Continue Reading

Crude-By-Rail Update: Siting a Crude Oil Transloading Terminal in California? Developers Should Seek Old Industrial Sites and Proactively Embrace the Environmental Impact Review Process

Proposed crude-by-rail (CBR) projects in California increasingly face opposition lawsuits designed to stall and derail the terminals. The suits often focus on alleged noncompliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)—a tactic that has produced success.[1] Undoubtedly, CEQA review presents its own delays and costs to industrial development. But if approached in the correct way, … Continue Reading

DO YOU DARE TO FLARE? A North Dakota Field Office Provides a View Into the Federal Regulatory Future

While high-profile regulatory efforts focused on hydraulic fracturing, waters of the United States, sage grouse, and greenhouse gas emissions have grabbed media headlines over the last several months, a potent stew of seemingly mundane technical initiatives has been simmering under the noses of domestic energy companies. Taken individually, narrow regulatory proposals related to oil and gas accounting, permitting and … Continue Reading

North Dakota Saltwater Disposal Enforcement Actions Highlight Key Legal and Social License Risks

Spills or improper disposal of oilfield produced water—which can be more than 10 times saltier than seawater and may also contain heavy metals and other chemicals—can turn even staunchly pro-oil and gas residents against drilling in their area.[1] Improper disposal and spills also can attract serious civil, and in some cases, criminal penalties. Several recent … Continue Reading

Birds of a Feather? Greater Sage-Grouse Decision Shows That Conservation and Energy Development Can Flock Together

On September 22, energy developers in the West breathed a sigh of relief when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that the greater sage-grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).[i] The FWS noted that in 2010 it believed that “habitat loss, fragmentation, and inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms” could … Continue Reading

State Supreme Court Imposes Strict Limitations on Secretary of State’s Authority to Block Anti-Fracking Ballot Measures, Granting Oil and Gas Interests a Limited Victory

This week the Ohio Supreme Court denied three Ohio counties’ attempts to ban high-volume hydraulic fracking. But that denial was procedural, not substantive, so the victory is limited to the instance at hand and the counties are free to try again. Earlier this summer, citizens of Medina, Fulton, and Athens counties petitioned their respective Boards … Continue Reading

Texas Wastewater Injection Wells Off the Hook for Causing Earthquakes

On September 10, the Texas Railroad Commission absolved a second oil and gas company of causing a series of earthquakes in northern Texas finding that the seismic activity was due to “natural tectonic processes.” The Commission issued two preliminary reports in the past two weeks addressing whether two oil and gas companies—XTO Energy and EnerVest— … Continue Reading

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Ruling That New York State’s Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing Did Not Extend the Primary Terms of Oil and Gas Leases

New York’s 2010 moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, culminating in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s formal ban of the practice in his state on December 17, 2014, made many large waves in the political, legal, and public arenas, the residual effects of which have yet to ebb completely. The latest installment came on August 19, 2015, when the … Continue Reading

Will Congress Repeal the Crude Oil Export Ban in Fall 2015?

Rising congressional support signals real promise that the ban on U.S. crude oil exports could be repealed within the next six months. The U.S. now exports more than 550 thousand barrels per day (kbd) of crude oil and another 120 to 140 kbd of condensate as of May 2015.[1] Yet continuing restrictions mean producers can only … Continue Reading

Toilet to Frac: Legal and Practical Aspects of Using Municipal Effluent for Fracing in Texas

Thus far, the idea of using purified municipal sewage effluent—“reclaimed water” in industry parlance—for city water supplies has proven a tough sell. Human psychology poses significant barriers to overcoming the “toilet to tap” aversion. But “toilet to frac” is an entirely different matter. In dry locations with large municipalities (100,000 persons or more) located within … Continue Reading

ONRR Continues to Penalize Oil and Gas Companies With Federal Leases in Wyoming for Failure to Submit Production Reports

Today, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (“ONRR”) announced that it has issued a $6.9 million civil penalty to High Plains Gas, Inc., for failure to submit production reports for numerous federal leases in Wyoming.[1] This is the largest reported civil penalty ONRR has issued since December 2006 and appears to … Continue Reading
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