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.”
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.