Archives: Exploration and Production

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Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Weighs in on Hydraulic Fracturing and Subsurface Trespass

In January of this year, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania tackled an issue that has been confronted by few other courts—whether the rule of capture precludes a claim for subsurface trespass due to hydraulic fracturing.[1]… Continue Reading

COVID-19 as a Force Majeure? The Texas and Louisiana Perspectives

Today, countries worldwide are responding to a pandemic of respiratory disease spreading from person-to-person caused by a novel coronavirus.  The disease has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).  The pandemic poses a serious public health risk, and government response has included closure of schools and businesses, declarations of emergency, and issuance of a variety … Continue Reading

Commissioner of Conservation Issues Letter Addressing Emergency Measures to Help Louisiana Oil and Gas Industry

The impacts of COVID-19 have rapidly swept across the country and the globe. Coupled with the recent decline in oil and gas prices, many operators are left scrambling in an attempt to navigate unprecedented circumstances.  With shutdowns and stay-at-home orders in place and regulatory deadlines looming, Louisiana operators are looking for guidance from regulators on … Continue Reading

Federal Offshore Pipeline Decommissioning in BOEM Significant Sediment Resource Areas

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of denials of applications to decommission offshore pipelines in place in a departure from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (“BSEE”) longstanding practices.  The denials are accompanied by an order from BSEE to decommission the pipelines by removal, with reference to Notice to … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit to Hold Oral Argument in Sojitz v. UNOCAL in April 2020

Last year, in another dispute over who should bear the cost of decommissioning offshore facilities, the Southern District of Texas held that a former sub-assignee of offshore operating rights was entitled to equitable subrogation from the record title owner and initial assignor.  Sojitz Energy Venture, Inc. v. Union Oil Co. of California, 394 F. Supp. … Continue Reading

OSHA Awards Damages for Retaliatory Discharge of Jones Act Seaman in Violation of Seaman’s Protection Act

In a stark reminder of the sanctity of Coast Guard investigations, and the consequences of impeding such investigations, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recently took action against a maritime employer for allegedly retaliating against a seaman who cooperated with the Coast Guard in connection with its investigation of a … Continue Reading

Possible Change to Jones Act Interpretations Regarding Coastwise Activities

The saga of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) ten-year effort to amend its interpretation of key components of the Jones Act continues.  After failed attempts to expand the scope of the Jones Act’s prohibition on activities by non-coastwise endorsed vessels in 2009 and 2017, CBP recently published a notice of proposed modification and … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Decides Dutra Group v. Batterton

Today the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in this landmark case concerning punitive damages.  The six justices in the majority opinion reversed the Ninth Circuit and resolved a circuit split on this issue.  The question presented was whether punitive damages may be awarded to a Jones Act seaman in a personal injury suit … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds State Wage and Hour Laws are Inapplicable to Offshore Drilling Platforms

In a decision that could have far-reaching implications, the United States Supreme Court issued a June 10 opinion holding that California’s wage-and-hour laws do not apply to workers on oil and gas platforms located in open water on the Outer Continental Shelf. The plaintiffs in Parker Drilling Management Services, Ltd. v. Newton, were offshore rig workers who filed … Continue Reading

Liskow Obtains Victory for the Oil and Gas Industry in the Louisiana Third Circuit

In a victory for the oil and gas industry, the Third Circuit rendered a decision rejecting attempts by the Louisiana Department of Revenue to impose severance taxes on crude oil production based on index pricing.  The Third Circuit reaffirmed that severance taxes should be based on the “gross proceeds” obtained in an arm’s length sale … Continue Reading

Alaska District Court Vacates Trump Executive Order On Offshore Leasing

On March 29, 2019, Alaska Federal District Court Judge Sharon Gleason granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiff environmental groups in League of Conservation Voters v. Trump, 3:17-00101.  The case stems from Executive Orders issued under the Obama Administration in 2015 and 2016 which withdrew certain areas in the Arctic and Atlantic regions from exploration … Continue Reading

City of New Orleans Sues Oil and Gas Companies for Allegedly Damaging Coastal Wetlands

On Friday, March 29, 2019, the City of New Orleans filed a lawsuit in Civil District Court against eleven oil and gas companies seeking damages for alleged harm to Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. Introducing its lawsuit with statements that “New Orleans is imperiled” and its “people are in danger,” the City contends that the defendants’ failure … Continue Reading

Western District of Louisiana Holds that Unit Operators May Not Recover Post-Production Costs from an Unleased Mineral Owner’s Share of Production Proceeds

On March 21, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana held that a unit operator may not recover post-production costs from an unleased mineral owner’s share of production proceeds in Allen Johnson, et al. v. Chesapeake Louisiana, LP.[1]  The dispute in Johnson involved a group of unleased mineral owners (“UMOs”) who … Continue Reading

New U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Clarify the Courts’ Authority to Compel Arbitration

Commercial and employment agreements often include provisions requiring arbitration of disputes between the parties. Some of these agreements contain “delegation clauses” requiring the arbitrator (as opposed to a court) to decide whether the dispute is subject to arbitration. Despite such provisions, one party may sue the other because it perceives an advantage to proceeding in … Continue Reading

Haynesville shale gas production is increasing again; Will Haynesville-related litigation increase again, too?

In August 2018, dry natural gas production from the Haynesville shale averaged 6.774 billion cubic feet per day, which is the highest daily Haynesville production average since September 2012 when production averaged 6.962 billion cubic feet per day.  August 2018 was not an anomaly.  Instead, this year, the Haynesville has seen steady increases in production … Continue Reading

FIFTH CIRCUIT BEGINS TO CLEAN UP ITS JURISPRUDENCE ON HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER A CONTRACT IS (OR IS NOT) MARITIME

After some thirty years of wrestling with the cumbersome six-part test set forth in Davis & Sons, Inc. v. Gulf Oil Corp.,[1] for determining whether a contract to perform services related to oil & gas exploration on navigable waters is maritime, the Fifth Circuit took up In re Larry Doiron, Incorporated[2] earlier this year in … Continue Reading

Texas Court Holds Drop in Oil Prices is Not Force Majeure

On Thursday, a divided panel of the Texas Court of Appeals in Houston held that the 2014-2015 drop in oil prices is not a force majeure for purposes of general force majeure contractual protection. In TEC Olmos, LLC v. ConocoPhillips, the court addressed a dispute between ConocoPhillips Company and TEC Olmos over a farmout agreement … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Affirms Trial Court’s Refusal to Adopt DNR’s Most Feasible Plan in Sweet Lake Land & Oil Co. v. Oleum Operating Company

The Louisiana Legislature passed “Act 312,” La. R.S. 30:29, in 2006 to provide a procedure for ensuring that amounts awarded to remediate environmental damage are actually spent on remediation.  Act 312 sets forth a multi-step scheme that is triggered once a party is found responsible for environmental damage, culminating with Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) … Continue Reading

The Fifth Circuit Rejects the DOJ’s Attempt to Charge Black Elk Contractors with OCSLA Felonies

In the aftermath of a 2012 platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in which three workers were killed, the Department of Justice ultimately indicted the contractors who supervised the work (along with the lease holder, Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC) with violating the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act (“OCSLA”), a felony carrying a … Continue Reading

Five Lessons Learned from Executing Shale Drilling Transactions

Shale drilling transactions typically involve (1) a party who holds oil and gas leases with underlying shale formations but who may not have the risk capital or expertise to explore such formations (the “Lease Party”) and (2) a party who has the risk capital and the expertise to drill and complete successful horizontal wells in … Continue Reading

Louisiana Second Circuit Finds Holder of Mortgage Encumbering a Mineral Lease Solidarily Liable with Mineral Lessees for Damages Under the Louisiana Mineral Code

In Gloria’s Ranch, L.L.C. v. Tauren Exploration, Inc., the Louisiana Second Circuit upheld a trial court’s ruling that the holder of a security interest in mineral leases was solidarily liable for damages under the Louisiana Mineral Code stemming from its mineral lessees/mortgagors’ actions.[1] In the case, a landowner sued its mineral lessees for: (1) failure … Continue Reading

Louisiana Second Circuit Provides Clarity on Production in Paying Quantities and Affirms Lease Cancellation Under Mineral Code Article 140 for Failure to Pay Royalties

On June 2, 2017 the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court’s judgment cancelling a mineral lease under Mineral Code article 140 and provided further clarity on a production in paying quantities analysis under Louisiana Mineral Code article 124.[1]  The dispute in Gloria’s Ranch, L.L.C. v. Tauren Exploration, Inc., arose from a … Continue Reading

U.S. Fifth Circuit Adopts Broad Definition of “Good Faith” for Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Claims

On June 1, 2017, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Borcik v. Crosby Tugs, L.L.C. applied a broad definition of the intent required of a plaintiff under the Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Act.  In doing so, both the Fifth Circuit and the Louisiana Supreme Court apply a more plaintiff friendly standard to claims … Continue Reading

Casing Controversy: Does the Comparative Fault Codal Article Cover Contract Claims?

In Justiss Oil Company, Inc. v. Oil Country Tubular Corp., et al, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal joined its sister circuit –the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, in finding that La. Civ. Code art. 2323 applies only to actions sounding in tort – not to actions in contract, such as redhibition.  In … Continue Reading
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