As promised, here is a more in-depth analysis of the recent Supreme Court of Texas opinion in TRO-X LP v. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. The piece was prepared by Gray Reed lawyers Charles Sartain, Chance Decker and Ethan Wood.
Co-author Trenton Patterson*
We’re not saying you should do it, but there is a recipe for ridding oil and gas leases of pesky burdens: Enter into a new lease covering the same interest as the earlier lease and omit any reference to an intent that the later be subordinate to the earlier. You don’t even have to release the earlier lease. So says TRO-X, L.P. v. Anadarko Petroleum Corp.
You might remember a report on this case at the court of appeal, where we marveled at the skillful (or fortuitous, we’ll never know) way the Anadarko landman won the day via email. Continue Reading Texas Supreme Court Affirms Washout of a Back–in Interest
Co-author Brittany Blakey*
A few things you should know about the acreage retention clause:
- Foremost and always, read the instrument – not all clauses are created equal. But you know that.
- Consider the clause before perfunctorily filing P-15’s, plats, and other RRC forms.
- Absentmindedly relying on field rules to determine how much acreage you can retain? Do so at your peril. And while your’re reading, read the rules pertaining to your acreage!
Two Texas Supreme Court decisions published on the same day confirm that retained acreage clauses that vary in language from one instrument to another will likely vary in effect. Depending on the language, the lessee might not be able to maintain all the acreage it planned on holding. Continue Reading Ask and You Shall (Not?) Receive: Retained Acreage Clauses and the Texas Supreme Court
Co-author Chance Decker
Recall the Battle of the Bastards: The heroic Lady Sansa and the duplicitous Lord Baelish gallop over the hill to save the foolish Jon Snow from the heinous Ramsey Bolton. In similar fashion, but without the malnourished canines, the Texas Supreme Court in Conoco Phillips Company v. Koopmann saved the Koopmanns and you, the document drafters and title examiners, from brutal application of the Rule Against Perpetuities. Continue Reading NPRI Reservation Survives Rule Against Perpetuities
Let’s get right to the takeaway: Despite the humble hourly rate operators are typically willing to fork over for title examination, the job isn’t easy and you’d better put your trust in a practitioner with expertise, patience, and an eye for detail.
It took a court of appeal two tries to get this one right, after being enlightened by an aggrieved party. These errors are typically discovered in the real life of a producer when an aggrieved royalty owner says you’ve overpaid somebody else. Let’s hope the well is still producing when they bring the matter to your attention. Continue Reading Mineral Title Examination – It’s Not Easy
Chauvin v. Shell Oil Company et al is the pot full of legal unpleasantness that can be stirred up by landmen trying to buy easements, leases, and the like.
A number of plaintiffs – descendants of grantors of two parcels of land in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana – were contacted by pipeline companies seeking servitudes. Apparently believing that betting on litigation offered a better return than the trifecta at the Fairgrounds, the descendants sued Shell and several pipeline companies holding servitudes from Shell for trespass. In the end, the court denied the plaintiff’s claims; they couldn’t carry their burden to prove their ownership of the property. Continue Reading Trespass Plaintiff: First, Prove Your Ownership
Email is the way we communicate these days. Whether emails create a contract is important if you’re thinking nothing short of scribblings on a piece of old parchment could ever bind anybody or, to the contrary, your goal is to establish an enforceable agreement. Before hitting “send”, consider Bujnoch v. Copano. Questions of fact precluded a summary judgment denying an agreement. A jury will decide the question. Continue Reading Can Emails Establish an Easement in Texas?
Gloria’s Ranch v. Tauren et al – the Louisiana lenders’ bad dream
Anyone seeking stability in the law governing E&P activities in Louisiana will view the lower court decision as a grave error that must be corrected. Virtually every mortgage provides safeguards to protect collateral and manage lenders’ risk. The court of appeal reasoned that because of those provisions, the lender controlled the ability of the borrower to execute a release of a mineral lease, resulting in solidary liability when the borrower-lessee failed to release its lease. Continue Reading An Oil and Gas Case to Expect From Louisiana, and Another From Texas
Co-author Chance Decker
The Texas Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in three intriguing oil and gas cases. Here’s what you need to know about two of them (We’ll address the third case soon).
Adams v. Murphy Exploration & Production Co. USA
Did lessee Murphy comply with an offset-well clause that doesn’t state where the offset-well must be drilled? When a well was drilled on an adjacent tract, Murphy drilled its offset-well more than 2,000 feet from the triggering well. Continue Reading Opinions to Expect From the Texas Supreme Court
To begin, choose from these candidates for the all-world spendthrift hall of fame:
- Imelda Marcos.
- Every Congress since you and I were little babies.
- Any MLB team that would trade for Giancarlo Stanton.
- All Power Five football schools not named Vanderbilt.
- The eventual winner of the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes.
- Robert Baratheon, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.
In Bradley v. Shaffer, Darrell, a beneficiary of a mineral trust established by his grandparents, purported to convey to Bradley his mineral interests that were subject to the trust and any interest held in trust that he might acquire in the future. The trustees sued, alleging that Darrell had no authority to convey his beneficial interest. Bradley argued that an extension of the trust violated the Rule Against Perpetuities. Spoiler: It didn’t.
A primer on Texas trust law … who owns what and other rules: