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Energy & the Law

Charles Sartain

Posts by Charles Sartain

Texas Supreme Court Relaxes Its Grip on the Discovery Rule

Posted in Lease Disputes

Co-author Sandra L. Mazan The Texas Supreme Court – that elephants’ graveyard of claims and causes of action – has sided with a lessor-plaintiff who relied on the discovery rule to defeat a limitations defense.  For the many with low expectations when the court agreed to review this case, this result is a welcomed surprise. We discussed Hooks, et… Continue Reading

A Scourge Worse than Fracking!

Posted in Hydraulic Fracturing

Allen Gilmer of DrillingInfo.com warns us about a threat to the nation’s health and safety that makes hydraulic fracturing look like a kindergarten cupcake party (if there were still such a thing).  What’s worse is this scourge is not limited to communities where there is oil and gas production. The young seem to be most afflicted. See the link to Allen’s blog post: http://info.drillinginfo.com/whats-more-dangerous-puppies-or-fracking/ As long… Continue Reading

Operator Can’t Recover Drilling Costs For Affiliate’s Expensive Rig

Posted in Contract Disputes, Operating Agreements

Co-author Alexandra Crawley In Elm Ridge Exploration Co., LLC v. Engle we are reminded of a little-used provision in the 1989 Model Form Operating Agreement. Article VI.D.1 allows the operator to use its own equipment, but his charges may not exceed prevailing rates in the area, and the rates must be agreed to in writing before… Continue Reading

Meanwhile in Texas … Who Should Decide About Fracking?

Posted in Energy Policy, Hydraulic Fracturing

Who should decide when, where, how, and even if, hydraulic fracturing should occur? The locals: “You hypocrites Our good public servants in Austin want ‘local control’ when its against Washington, but deny us the same right.  We know better than you about what’s best for our community. To hell with catastrophic litigation exposure and declining tax revenues. If you didn’t get a regular royalty check and had to… Continue Reading

Consider The Retained Acreage Clause

Posted in Lease Disputes, Pooling

Have you ever wondered about the original purpose of the retained acreage clause? According to Professor Kramer, it was “to prevent the lessee from losing those portions of a lease that had productive wells thereon if the rest of the lease terminated”. The term has been expanded “to include clauses that require the release of all… Continue Reading

5th Circuit Blocks Punitive Damages in Maritime Case

Posted in Litigation

Co-author Shannon Thorne In McBride v. Estis Well Service, LLC, the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that punitive damages are not available to seamen under the Jones Act or under general maritime law. In those cases, recovery is limited to pecuniary losses. The Drill Barge Accident Estis Well Service owned and operated Estis Rig… Continue Reading

Frackers v. Anti’s – Scoring update

Posted in Energy Policy, Environmental Policy, Hydraulic Fracturing

The box scores after election day showed frackers 4, anti’s 4. Courtesy of a gubernatorial grand-slam by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, hydraulic fracturing is now banned throughout the entire state of New York. In this ballgame within a ballgame, it’s Yoko and Shawn, the likes of Moveon.org , and wealthy Manhattanites: 1 Mineral owners, asthmatics, underemployed up-staters, and cash-starved municipalities: 0 Producers… Continue Reading

A Little-Used Doctrine Saves a Lease

Posted in Lease Disputes

Would this scenario keep you up at night? Your lease does not produce from May through August because a leak in a heater-treater makes it impossible or impractical to produce the well. Problems such as access to the site during rainy weather make repairs difficult. You are beyond the primary term. The top- lessee lurks. The Lease “If at the expiration of the primary term… Continue Reading

Listen to the Words In the Injunction Battle

Posted in Litigation, operations

If it’s an injunction you want, some words are your friend and others aren’t. For example: “Imminent” = friend “Might” = not friend “Likely” = friend “Could” = not friend “Irreparable” = friend “Money damages” = not friend In Lightning Oil Company v. Anadarko E&P Offshore, LLC, the surface and 1/6 of the minerals of the… Continue Reading

Avoid the Oral Agreement

Posted in operations

Cresson SWD Services, L.P. vs. Basic Energy Services, L.P. is a warning about the perils of an oral agreement for a risky downhole procedure. Cresson hired Basic to make improvements on a saltwater disposal well by deepening the injection zone, inserting a liner, and cleaning out the hole to 8,600 feet. The Claims Cresson’s claim: Basic did not complete the well to 8,600 feet as… Continue Reading

More Seismic Rumbling in Louisiana

Posted in Contract Disputes

Co-author Brooke Sizer In Olympia Minerals et al v. HS Resources, et al, the Louisiana Supreme Court addressed a decision we discussed in a February entry by affirming in part, reversing in part, amending in part and remanding (because why do one thing when you can do four). The case involved the “North Starks Project Agreement” covering 42,000… Continue Reading

Election Scoreboard: Frackers 4, Anti’s 4

Posted in Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing bans had eight at-bats last Tuesday. Here are the results. Denton, Texas See the Ballot Question in a recent entry. YES 58.64% NO 41.36% Athens, Ohio “To establish a community bill of rights for residents and natural communities of Athens and to protect those rights by prohibiting shale gas and oil extraction and related activities; and by… Continue Reading

The Well Operator Should Have Listened To My Mother

Posted in Royalty Disputes, Title Issues

My mother used to give us good advice.  For example:  Don’t lie … do your homework.  Sabella v. Appalachian Development Corporation agrees with my mother. Sabella bought minerals in 1997 under 66 acres in Warren County, Pennsylvania, on which the Haners had two producing wells (under a 144-acre lease from the Harveys). They weren’t paying royalties to Sabella. When given… Continue Reading

Hydrocarbon Exposure Reconsidered

Posted in Litigation, Pollution

Co-author Maryann Zaki You might recall previous entries (here is one) discussing the $2.9 million Dallas County verdict and judgment in Parr v. Aruba. Not all similar suits have the same result. Michael and Myra Cerny sued Marathon Oil Corp. and Plains Exploration & Production Company, alleging, as in Parr,  private nuisance, negligence, and negligence per se…. Continue Reading

What’s Going On in Denton, Texas?

Posted in Energy Policy, Hydraulic Fracturing

As you probably know, the Denton City Council denied a petition signed by several thousand citizens to ban hydraulic fracturing within the city limits. The denial sent the question to the November 4 general election ballot.  Here is the proposition, its legalese in full bloom: SHALL AN ORDINANCE BE ENACTED PROHIBITING, WITHIN THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF THE CITY OF DENTON, TEXAS, HYDRAULIC FRACTURING,… Continue Reading

Faulty Property Description Haunts Louisiana Servitude

Posted in Land Titles, Royalty Disputes, Title Issues

Co-author Brooke Sizer Halloween is approaching, so let’s talk poltergeists – troublesome spirits that haunt a specific location. Where do they come from? In Quality Environmental Processes, Inc. v I.P. Petroleum Company, Inc., it was from a faulty property description that lay dormant for 30 years before beginning its vexations. The Demon is Spawned A 1966 mineral deed… Continue Reading

Easements: Roads Traveled, Less Traveled, and Not Traveled

Posted in Land Titles, Title Issues

Why would anyone buy property without access to a public road? Because it seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess. And often it is, until things change, “things” often being new and unfriendly ownership of the surrounding property. The Texas Supreme Court has addressed this situation.  Hamrick v. Ward clarified the law for two different kinds of implied… Continue Reading

Truth and Illusion in the Fracking Debate

Posted in Energy Policy, Environmental Policy, Hydraulic Fracturing

“What is it like to live inside your head with Peter Pan and the Easter Bunny?” So asks the sister in “Bridges of Madison County” after the brother wonders if the Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood characters had sex all those years ago. And so it is from certain quarters in the hydraulic fracking debate who continue to… Continue Reading

How Much Are Your Trees Worth?

Posted in Construction, Litigation

In Texas, more than your dog. Gilbert Wheeler, Inc. v. Enbridge Pipelines (East Texas), L.P. is good news for landowners. The Texas Supreme recognized the intrinsic-value-of-trees exception to the general rule for damages to real property, so that landowners are compensated for the loss of the ornamental (esthetic) and utilitarian (shade) value that trees bring… Continue Reading