Last week, the U.S. Department of the Interior released its proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) five-year program for offshore oil and gas leasing. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) requires the Secretary of the Department of the Interior to “prepare and periodically revise and maintain an oil and gas leasing program” (i.e., a five-year

For nearly three years, unit operators in Louisiana have waited to see whether the Western District of Louisiana would change course or double down on its March 2019 decision in Johnson v. Chesapeake. In the original Johnson decision, the district court sent shockwaves across the oil and gas industry in Louisiana by finding that post-production costs were not properly deductible against proceeds owed to unleased mineral owners. In the wake of that decision, at least two putative class actions were filed against the largest producers in the Haynesville Shale, and operators have been flooded with demands and suits from unleased owners who relied on Johnson to contest the validity of post-production cost decisions from unleased interests.
Continue Reading Long-Awaited Victory on the Proper Deductibility of Post-Production Costs from Unleased Mineral Owners – The Western District of Louisiana Reverses Course in Johnson v. Chesapeake and Self v. BPX

Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) projects involve various legal issues. Like traditional exploration and development, CCUS projects require the operator to secure both the necessary private property rights from landowners as well as regulatory approval from the appropriate administrative agency in order to proceed. This article focuses on the latter.

Regulatory approval for CCUS

Louisiana Revised Statutes 30:103.1 et seq. have been heavily litigated in recent years, but there are only a handful of reported decisions interpreting these statutes. Many of these decisions involve whether a party complied with the strict notice requirements contained in the statutes. B.A. Kelly Land Company, L.L.C. v. Aethon Energy Operating, L.L.C., 25

On February 11, 2022, the Biden Administration’s climate change agenda sustained a major blow as Judge James D. Cain of the Western District of Louisiana enjoined a Biden administration executive order that charged federal agencies with considering the “social cost of carbon” in their decision making.  The injunction could have far reaching impacts on the

In Mary v. QEP Energy Company, the U.S. Fifth Circuit held that a landowner is not entitled to a pipeline company’s profits as a consequence of a portion of a pipeline being located partially outside of a servitude. The Fifth Circuit concluded that a landowner can only recover the additional profits earned by defendant

The subsequent purchaser doctrine has been litigated extensively in Louisiana legacy cases involving claims for oilfield remediation.  The doctrine provides that a current landowner has no standing to bring a lawsuit for property damage that occurred prior to its acquisition absent a valid assignment from the prior landowner of the personal right to sue.  However, until now, no appellate court had addressed whether the doctrine barred a claim brought by a closely held or family-owned company who acquired the property in an intra-family transfer.  In Louisiana Wetlands, LLC v. Energen Resources Corporation, 2021-0290 (La. App. 1 Cir. 10/4/21), 2021 WL 4548529, —So. 3d—, the Louisiana First Circuit answered this question in the affirmative, holding that the subsequent purchaser doctrine applies to property transfers from family members to a company which they also own.
Continue Reading Louisiana First Circuit Applies Subsequent Purchaser Doctrine to Property Transfer Involving Closely Held LLC

On June 29, 2021, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, held that a natural gas company’s right to condemn property for a pipeline under the Natural Gas Act includes the right to condemn state-owned property. In PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey,[1] the divided Court held that a certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) entitled PennEast Pipeline Company (PennEast) to use the federal government’s power of eminent domain to seize property owned by the State of New Jersey.
Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Blocks New Jersey’s Sovereign Immunity Challenge to FERC Certificate Holder’s Condemnation of State-Owned Land

TC Energy Corporation stated that it filed a notice of intent with the U.S. Department of State that it will make a claim against the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The claim will be based on President Biden’s January 2021 revocation of TC Energy’s Keystone XL Pipeline permit.
Continue Reading TC Energy’s $15B Claim Against U.S. for Biden’s Revocation of Keystone XL Pipeline Permit

Devon Energy Production Company, L.P. v. Sheppard is a royalty dispute between several lessees, Devon Energy Production Co., L.P., et. al., and several lessors, Michael A. Sheppard, et. al., concerning a novel royalty term that may have a huge impact on the way oil and gas royalties are paid in the future.  See 13-19-00036-CV, 2020 WL 6164467, at *12 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Oct. 22, 2020, pet. filed).  The novel term, referred to as an “add-back” or “add-to-proceeds” provision, requires any deductions to the sale of production to be added back to the proceeds in order to determine the appropriate royalty base.  The lessors argue that under this term, the deductions in the lessees’ sales contracts attributable to the buyers’ post-transfer costs must be added to the gross proceeds in order to establish a royalty base above the gross proceeds.  The lessees disagree, countering that the clear intent of the provision is merely to prohibit the deduction of their own post-production costs, not the post-transfer costs of the buyers.  The lessors won in the trial court; the court of appeals affirmed.  Now the case is before the Texas Supreme Court, with a recently submitted amicus brief containing the argument that could turn the tides back in the lessees’ favor.
Continue Reading New Developments in Shocking Case Before the Texas Supreme Court Regarding Construction of Novel Oil & Gas Royalty Term