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Energy & the Law

Category Archives: Title Issues

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The Parol Evidence Rule at Work in a Mineral Transaction

Posted in Contract Disputes, Land Titles, Title Issues

A phrase currently in common usage begins with “‘cluster” and ends with a vulgarity that has been around for centuries. Saheid v. Kennedy presents facts that pretty much exemplify the meaning of the phrase: While living in England, start out to buy a hotel in New Orleans, have no experience in Louisiana mineral transactions, when the… Continue Reading

The Constructive Notice Doctrine in Action

Posted in Land Titles, Title Issues

Today’s “pay attention” edition begins with a quiz. What is the most important thing to read carefully: a. Speed limit sign in small-town (insert name of Southern state). b. Itinerary for that dream vacation, the one with multiple layovers of varying durations in airports and time zones far from your own. c. Title documents to which you affix… Continue Reading

Operator – Don’t Get Burned by Paying an Insolvent Contractor

Posted in Land Titles, operations, Title Issues

MEMORANDUM From: Legal Department To: Accounts Payable Re: What we learned from Shell Western E&P, Inc. v. Pel-State Bulk Plant, LLC ________________________________________________________________________ Just received notice of a Texas subcontractor’s mineral lien? DO NOT continue to pay the contractor. He hasn’t paid the subcontractor. Think you owe nothing on the well on which the lien will… 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

Title Suit Booted for Failure to Join Parties

Posted in Lease Disputes, Litigation, Title Issues

Longoria v. ExxonMobil is like throwing a big party but failing to invite all the right guests. The Longorias – 59 of them – sued producer-defendants over ownership of 9,200 acres in Brooks County, Texas, acquired in the 1800’s. Plaintiffs claimed their ownership was not recognized in subsequent conveyances and judgments and sought an accounting,… 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

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

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

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

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

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

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