Co-author Rusty Tucker

PPC Acquisition Co., LLC, et al. v. Delaware Basin Res., LLC, et al. addressed retained acreage clauses in three separate oil and gas leases covering the same 640-acre tract in Reeves County, Texas.

Did the lessees hold acreage under the leases based on one producing well, the Colt #1 that was completed in 2003? OR, did the lessees’ failure to drill additional wells, re-classification of the well from gas to oil, and failure to timely file a RRC Form P-15 with a limited acreage designation terminate the leases for all or part of the acreage?

The facts
Continue Reading Texas Court Parses Three Retained-Acreage Clauses – Part 1

Co-author Skyler Stuckey

In Endeavor Energy Resources, L.P. v. Energen Resources Corp. et al. the Supreme Court of Texas construed a continuous development clause in an oil and gas lease covering 11,300 acres in Howard County. After the primary term, lessee Endeavor could retain acreage by drilling a new well every 150 days. The clause gave Endeavor “ … the right to accumulate unused days in any 150-day term during the continuous development program in order to extend the next allowed 150-day term between the completion of one well and the driling of a subsequent well.

After the primary term, Endeavor drilled 12 wells that extended the lease. Endeavor began drilling a 13th well 320 days after completing the preceding well. In the ensuing period Energen top-leased the supposedly non-retained parcels. Litigation ensued.

The dispute focused on how to calculate the number of “unused days”. Endeavor argued that it could carry forward unused days across multiple 150-day terms.  Energen argued that unused days in any given 150-day term could be carried forward only once, to the next term.
Continue Reading Texas Supreme Court Deems Continuous Development Clause Ambiguous

Co-author Rusty Tucker

In Mayo Found. For Med. Educ. & Research v. BP Am. Prod. Co. a United States District Court considered the circumstances under which a lessor can withold its consent to assign an oil and gas lease.

The provision 

A lease from Barbara Lips* to Alpar Resources included Section 157 and other lands.  Paragraph 7 reserved to Lips an absolute veto right over any assignment of Alpar’s interest in the Lease.

An amendment to the lease replaced the original Paragraph 7 with this less-restrictive clause:

“The rights and obligations of the Lessee hereunder are not assignable or transferable in any respect by it, except upon the written approval of [Mayo], which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld.”
Continue Reading Texas Court Evaluates Consent to Assign an Oil and Gas Lease

Co-author Rusty Tucker

Devon Energy Prod. Co., et al. v. Sheppard, et al is your kind of case if you are in search of:

  • A roadmap for slicing and dicing royalty calculations in myriad ways,
  • Pretty good summaries of the Supreme Court’s notable decisions in Heritage Resources v. NationsBank, Judice v. Mewborne Oil, Chesapeake Exploration v. Hyder and Burlington Resources v. Texas Crude. (pp 12-19)
  • A description of the gas fractionation process.
  • For you scriveners: Reference to the Supreme Court’s lament for “the considerable time, money and heartache” expended due to the use of “industry jargon, outdated legalese, or tenuous assumptions about how judges will interpret industry jargon or outdated legalese”.


Continue Reading When is a “Gross Proceeds” Royalty not Paid on Gross Proceeds?

Co-author Rusty Tucker

In Evans Resources, L.P., et al. v. Diamondback E&P, LLC, two agreements left the terms “constructed” and “utilized” undefined. If the terms had been defined would the outcome have been different? Maybe. Should parties define every term in an agreement? No, if they are content to rely on the ordinary meaning of the words.

The agreements


Continue Reading “Construction” of a Well Pad Requires More than a Survey

Co-author Kelley Clark Morris

Suing a state and its public officials is difficult because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity. There are exceptions. State of Texas v. Signal Drilling, et al. presents several of them.

The rules

The State and its agencies are immune from:

  • Suits seeking to construe or enforce contracts to which the State is a party,
  • Declaratory judgment actions,
  • Ordinary trespass to try title suits.

There are exceptions. For example:

  • Claims against a state official in his representative capacity for non-discretionary acts unauthorized by law (the ultra vires exception).
  • Claims for an unconstitutional taking of property without adequate compensation.
  • Suits to require state officials to comply with statutory or constitutional provisions.


Continue Reading No Sovereign Immunity for the Texas Land Commissioner

Quick answer: It depends on what the lease says.  Last week featured a tug-of-war between a producer and the community in which it operates; this week in HJSA No. 3 LP v. Sundown Energy LP  it’s the producer and the lessor.

HJSA owns the mineral estate under 30,540 acres in Ward County, Texas. Sundown is the lessee. After six years the lease could be maintained only as to individual tracts from which there was production in paying quantities and as to other tracts only if Sundown was engaged in a “continuous drilling program”.

Dueling lease provisions (emphasis mine)

Paragraph 7B says:

The first such continuous development well shall be spudded in on or before the sixth anniversary of the Effective Date, with no more than 120 days to elapse between completion or abandonment of operations on one well and the commencement of drilling operations on the next ensuing well.

Paragraph 18 is a 90-day temporary cessation clause that defines drilling operations as:

“ … actual operations … (spud-in with equipment capable of drilling to Lessee’s objective depth); reworking operations, including fracturing and acidizing; and reconditioning, … “.
Continue Reading Spudding? Reworking? What are “Operations” Under an Oil and Gas Lease?

Co-author Paul Yale

What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander, at least in some places. It appears that the North Dakota Supreme Court has adopted the minority “ Marketable Product Rule” in connection with a 1979 North Dakota state oil and gas lease. We say “it appears” because not so long ago, in its 2009 decision in Bice v. Petro-Hunt, LLC, the Court held that North Dakota was an “at the well” state, like Texas and the majority of other oil producing states. This latest decision is Newfield Exploration Company, et al v. State of North Dakota et al.

The difference between the “Marketable Product Rule” and the “at the well” rule has to do with the deductibility of post-production costs of transporting, compressing, treating and processing from royalty payments. In an “at the well” state such costs are charged proportionately against the royalty owner. In a “Marketable Product” state they are not.
Continue Reading North Dakota: A Different Rule for Post-Production Costs In a State Lease.

Co-author Ethan Wood

Let’s begin with a quiz. True or false:

  • Apache Resources, LLC (n/k/a “Pueblo Resources, LLC.” Wonder why?) is Apache Corporation.
  • Plains Natural Resources, LLC is Plains Exploration & Production Company.
  • Ridge Natural Resources, LLC is Oak Ridge Natural Resources, LLC.
  • Range Royalty, LLC is Range Resources Corporation.

If you answered “false” to all four, congratulations. In each category the latter companies are reputable independent oil and gas producers. The former are … well, let’s just call them “mineral buyers” (seemingly coordinated in their efforts in some murky way), one of which was the winner – for now – in Ridge Resources, LLC et al v. Double Eagle Royalty, LP
Continue Reading An Arbitration Ruling That’s About More Than Arbitration