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Energy & the Law

Charles Sartain

Posts by Charles Sartain

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

Subcontractors Score a Victory in Federal Court

Posted in Contract Disputes, Title Issues

By: Martin P. Averill On August 27, in In re Heritage Consolidated, L.L.C., the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted subcontractor’s lien rights to two oil and gas drilling contractors. The Court reversed a district court ruling which upheld a summary judgment issued by a bankruptcy court denying liens to the two drilling contractors. The case was briefed and argued by Gray… Continue Reading

Freedom to Contract Prevails in New Mexico

Posted in Lease Disputes

Co-author  Alexandra Crawley                                             Is freedom to contract a good thing for everybody?  First Baptist Church of Roswell v. Yates Petroleum Corp. says yes, and confirms that the public policy in New Mexico is freedom to contract. In this case, it was to avoid the Proceeds Payment Act requirement for payment of interest on well proceeds once a legal determination is made that a payee is… Continue Reading

In Wyoming, a Higher Burden for Chemical Disclosure Exemption?

Posted in Hydraulic Fracturing, Regulations

Co-author Sandra Mazan In Powder River Basin Resource Council v. Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the Wyoming Supreme Court held that the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has the burden of justifying the use of trade secrets exemption from revealing the contents of hydraulic fracturing chemicals. The court also required the WOGCC, when deciding what a… Continue Reading

CO2 is Good

Posted in Lease Disputes, Royalty Disputes

… in the right places. Co-author Mark Bohon In French vs. Occidental Permian, Ltd. the Texas Supreme Court held that costs associated with injection of carbon dioxide into a reservoir in a tertiary recovery operation were properly deducted from royalties. This case reflects court’s awareness of improvements in oil recovery created by new technology, in this case CO2… Continue Reading

Treachery of the Untrustworthy Trustee

Posted in Contract Disputes, Title Issues

Co-author Brooke Sizer J-W Operating Co. v. Olsen is another Louisiana concursus (“It’s not my money, Your Honor; let them fight over it”). The Trust In 2006, Fred Houston created the Fred L. Houston Trust and placed into it the Tenneco lease, which had been producing since 1974. Ms. Williams was the trustee. The trust instrument declared… Continue Reading

This is Why You Need a Will

Posted in Land Titles, Title Issues

Co-author Brooke Sizer Let’s talk title disputes, especially ones between those with record title and those claiming title by possession: They are complicated (There were 229 defendants in today’s case) They happen when there is a lot of money to fight over ($2.7 MM in today’s case) They involve events that happened a long time ago The witness who can… Continue Reading