Separator. Equipment for oil separation. Modular oil treatment unit. Bulite for separation

In resolving a dispute over post-production cost deductions from oil and gas royalties (PPC’s), the court in Shirlaine West Properties Ltd et al v. Jamestown Resources, LLC and Total E&P USA, Inc. opined that the case ” … is yet another episode in the endless struggle in the oil and gas context between lessors and lessees in the allocation of [PPC’s] in the calculation of royalty payments.”

Takeaway

Was the lessor’s gas royalty burdened by PPC’s? Yes. The market value royalty clause unambiguously fixed the wellhead as the valuation point for royalty calculation.

The royalty clause 

 The lessor did its best to be free of PPCs:

  • Royalty on gas was 25% of “ … market value at the point of sale, use or other disposition …
  • … to be determined “ … at the specified location and by reference to the gross heating value …”.
  • “The market value used in the calculation … shall never be less than the total proceeds received by Lessee in connection with a sale, use or other disposition … “.
  • Royalty “ … shall be free and clear of all costs and expenses whatsoever, except ad valorem and production taxes.”
  • … [N]otwithstanding any language herein to the contrary, all oil, gas or other proceeds accruing to Lessor … shall be without deduction for [PPC’s] …  and costs resulting in enhancing the value could be deducted ” … but in no event would Lessor receive a price lower than or more than the price received by Lessee.”
  • If Lessee realized proceeds after deduction for PPC’s “ … the proportionate part of such deductions shall be added to the total proceeds received by Lessee … . “.
  • Heritage Resources v. NationsBank would have no application.


Continue Reading Another Post-Production Cost Decision in Texas

Most bills filed in each legislative session fail. For the most part we are thankful for that. But today we summarize a few that survived while you weren’t paying attention. As usual, there are winners, losers, and rainouts.

HB 2730 beefs up the “Landowners’ Bill of Rights” in eminent domain negotiations and proceedings. It amends

Co-author Rusty Tucker

The Supreme Court of Texas has ruled that oil and gas leases under consideration in BlueStone Natural Resources II, LLC v. Walker Murray Randle, et al. did not permit deduction of postproduction costs from sales proceeds before royalties were computed, and a “free use” clause did not authorize the lessee to consume leasehold gas in off-lease operations without compensating the lessors.

The takeaway …

… at least that’s what they ruled in this cicumstance. The Court reiterated that regardless of a recitation here or an observation over yonder, it will not adjudicate the supremacy of one contract clause over another or one arbitrary rule of construction over another. Rather, it will construe each contract according to its terms.

The royalty clause
Continue Reading Texas Supreme Court Weighs in on Post-Production Costs

Co-author Rusty Tucker

BlueStone Nat. Res. II, LLC v. Nettye Engler Energy, LP is another Texas case deciding whether language creating a nonparticipating royalty interest prohibited deduction of post-production costs. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t. Read on to learn why.)

The Deed

By a 1986 Deed Engler’s predecessors conveyed land to BlueStone’s predecessor. Grantor reserved an undivided 1/8th NPRI in the minerals and was entitled to 1/8th of gross production, “ … to be delivered to Grantor’s credit, free of cost in the pipe line, if any, otherwise free of cost at the mouth of the well or mine … .” (emphasis ours).
Continue Reading Texas NPRI Burdened with Post-Production Costs

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 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.

Did the lessor’s deposit of royalty checks for production from a pooled unit that she contends was improper ratify the improper pooling? In Strickhausen v. Petrohawk et al, a jury will have to sort out the answer. Her case will be aided by exculpatory language in her oil and gas lease and her complaints from the beginning that her lease was improperly pooled.

The “Future Documents” clause and other facts

Strickhausen’s lease on 50 percent of the minerals on land in LaSalle County, Texas, prohibited pooling without her express written consent. An unusual “Future Documents” provision said (to paraphrase): If the lessee requires her to execute any document, such as a division order, such execution does not constitute waiver, acceptance, ratification, reviver, or adoption or waiver of any claim or demand, unless the document expressly states that as its purpose.
Continue Reading Lessor, Should You Cash That Royalty Check?

Welcome to today’s grab-bag of unrelated topics.

The climate avengers are clever in the way they demonize the industry. They give zero credit for technological advancement. Truth is, the industry’s use of technology is constantly evolving, resulting in improved performance and, not secondarily, lessened environmental impact from operations.

One example: Scientists from The Ohio State University are working on a project to convert fossil fuels and biomass into useful products, including electricity, without emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The papers were published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.
Continue Reading Oil Field Technology … and a Texas Bill Aimed at Royalty Owners