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Energy & the Law

Category Archives: Land Titles

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Assigning By “Stratigraphic Equivalent”? Be Careful

Posted in Contract Disputes, Land Titles, Purchase and Sale Agreements

Co-author Brooke Sizer How many of your mineral conveyances are described like this: … all of Sellers’ right, title and interest in and to (a) the oil, gas and other minerals in, to and under the lands … ONLY INSOFAR as such oil, gas and other minerals are located below that depth which is the stratigraphic equivalent… Continue Reading

Louisiana Partition Agreement: You Can’t Trade What You Don’t Own

Posted in Land Titles, Title Issues

Square Mile Energy LLC v. Pommier considered this language in a Louisiana partition agreement: “N.B: Included in this transfer are any and all mineral rights, when available, to Roxanne and all surface rights.” Did this language include an interest in a mineral servitude inherited by Paul as co-owner with his siblings? To answer the question, a few… Continue Reading

Neither a Will Nor a Gift Deed?

Posted in Land Titles, Title Issues

This narrative about a daughter gone bad is for title examiners, landmen and moralists. Business development persons, skip straight to the lesson. The background Elvira owned a home and lived with Johnny. Elvira and Johnny were named managing conservators for her three grandchildren after a daughter died. The grandchildren lived at the house. Elvira and Johnny signed… Continue Reading

What Happens to a Bundled Production Payment When a Lease Terminates?

Posted in Land Titles, Royalty Disputes, Title Issues

Must a production payment out of four oil and gas leases be proportionately reduced if two of the leases expire because production ceased? In Apache Deepwater, LLC v. McDaniel Partners, Ltd., the Texas Supreme Court says yes. Absent express language in the assignment to the contrary, this general rule applies:  When an assigned lease terminates,… Continue Reading

Texas Property Code Change – No More Subordinations?

Posted in Land Titles, Lease Disputes, Title Issues

Special thanks to Gray Reed colleagues Paul Yale and Dominic Salinas for this post. Weary of having to solicit those pesky subordinations of pre-existing mortgages to your recently-acquired oil and gas leases? Tired of chasing down the third assistant to the fourth vice president for loan servicing just to obtain one simple document? The 2015… Continue Reading

You Own the Oil. Do You Own the Rock?

Posted in Land Titles, operations

Riddle: What’s the difference between a hydrocarbon molecule and the underground structure which the molecule inhabits? Answer: In Texas, you can own one and not the other, according to Lightning Oil Co. v. Anadarko E&P Onshore LLC. Dueling Estates This was a subsurface trespass case between lessees on two adjacent mineral estates. The Cutlass lease, owned by Lightning, is a severed… Continue Reading

The Danger of “Too Much Information”?

Posted in Land Titles, Title Issues

I know contract writers who like to state terms, such as property descriptions, several different ways. If you just have to over-describe, at least be careful, and at least be sure the descriptions are consistent. The McGregors and Millican were adjacent landowners fighting over a 34.28 acre wooded tract in Brazos County, Texas. The question:  Was the acreage in Millican’s chain of title. The answer: “No”. A 1945 deed… 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

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

Title Troubles in Texas, North Dakota and Montana: Right of Way v. Fee Conveyance

Posted in Land Titles, Title Issues

If you examine titles or read title opinions, this post is for you. By Taylor Grove Lamb  I was recently examining instruments for an East Texas title opinion when I came across an instrument that, at first glance, appeared to be an easement. Scanning the document, I saw the phrases “right of way” and “road”—leading one to believe… Continue Reading

The Duhig Rule – State by State

Posted in Land Titles, Title Issues

Co-author Tara Trout Flume As promised in our last post, here is a state-by-state review of the Duhig Rule –  who has adpoted it, who hasn’t, and who might. Texas – Duhig v. Peavey Moore Lumber Company, 135 Tex. 503, 144 S.W.2d 878 (1940) was a Texas case.  As a result, producing states have Texas to thank for the Duhig… Continue Reading

Beware, the Stealthy Duhig Rule

Posted in Land Titles, Title Issues

Co-author Tara Trout Flume Johnson v. Finkle, from North Dakota, centers around the long-standing but oft-forgotten headache that is the Duhig doctrine. If you aren’t familiar, you should be. Here it is: The Rule “Where a grantor conveys land in such a manner as to include 100% of the minerals, and then reserves to himself 50%… Continue Reading

Unrecorded Override Assignment Trumps the Public Records Doctrine

Posted in Land Titles, Lease Disputes, Operating Agreements

Lawyers and landmen are taught that a document affecting real or immovable property not recorded in the public records means nothing to a stranger. Like O. J.’s quest for the real killer, lower premiums after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the present I would have given my wife except I forgot our… Continue Reading