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Texas Supreme Court Update: Boundary Dispute Between Leasehold Owner and Lessees of Adjacent Tract

Bringing to mind the infamous Hatfield-McCoy family feud, Concho Resources, Inc. v. Ellison is a classic boundary dispute between a leasehold owner and neighboring lessees with allegations of fraud and more than $1 million at stake.  See 2021 WL 1432222 (Tex. Apr. 16, 2021).  The plaintiff, Martha Ellison d/b/a Ellison Lease Operating, alleged that the … Continue Reading

President Biden Faces Constitutional Challenges to Revocation of Keystone XL Permit

During his first  hours in the Oval Office, President Biden issued Executive Order 13990, entitled “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” Section 6 of the Order revoked TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P.’s March 2019 permit to construct and operate cross-border pipeline facilities at the U.S.-Canada border in Montana. This … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Update: The Court Decides Issue of First Impression Related to the Scope of an Oil and Gas Lease’s Free-Use Clause and Further Interprets Conflicting Royalty Clause Provisions

The Texas Supreme Court recently issued its anticipated decision in BlueStone Natural Resources II, LLC v. Randle, affirming in part and reversing in part the lower court’s ruling.  No. 19-0459, 2021 WL 936175 (Tex. Mar. 12, 2021).  The Court (1) affirmed that the lower court correctly concluded the oil and gas lease at issue explicitly … Continue Reading

The Meaning of “And” Determines Outcome of Oil and Gas Feud

In Tier 1 Resources Partners et al. v. Delaware Basin Resources LLC, 08-20-00060-CV, the Court of Appeals for the Eighth District of Texas (El Paso) recently held oral argument on the proper construction of the word “and” used in a Delaware Basin oil and gas lease.  The meaning of the word is hotly contested, the … Continue Reading

Survey of Proposed Legislation Across the States Affecting the Energy Industry in 2021

Several pieces of energy-industry legislation are teed up for debate as state legislatures reconvene for their first sessions of 2021. With topics ranging from offshore oil and gas moratoriums to restrictions on natural gas flaring and venting, the following is an overview of notable energy legislation to be heard in state legislatures this year.… Continue Reading

Trudging the Rocky Landscape of Royalty Dispute Litigation with the Texas Supreme Court Yet Again in BlueStone

With the prevalence of cases involving royalty disputes in Texas, the state’s Supreme Court has never hesitated to address these issues.  But the Court’s sporadic holdings regarding royalty clauses, each so specific to the particular language of the lease, have left lessees on unsteady footing.  BlueStone primes the Court to resolve a Texas appellate court … Continue Reading

Louisiana and Texas COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders and Effects on State Courts

This article was updated on April 14, 2020. Day-to-day life has been dramatically impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and many courts in Louisiana and Texas have been forced to close or limit operations in conjunction with stay-at-home orders.  A brief discussion of how COVID-19 has affected Louisiana and Texas courts is discussed here.… 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

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

Texas Supreme Court Decides Energy Transfer Partners v. Enterprise Products

The Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion today in Energy Transfer Partners, L.P v. Enterprise Products Partners, L.P., a case previously featured on the Blog.  This case began in 2011 when ETP and Enterprise explored the possibility of partnering to modify and extend, or construct anew, a pipeline to transport oil southbound from Cushing, Oklahoma.… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court to Review $500 Million Verdict in Case Involving Formation of Partnership to Construct Crude Oil Pipeline

Last week the Texas Supreme Court granted review in Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. v. Enterprise Products Partners, L.P., a case concerning Texas partnership law.  Energy Transfer Partners has garnered significant amicus support on both sides of the “v.” and has been closely followed by the energy industry.… 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

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

United States Fifth Circuit Confirms Remedies Available to Subrogated Insurer

On July 7, 2017, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, in Associated International Insurance Company v. Scottsdale Insurance Company, held that, under Texas law, the subrogation clause of an insurance agreement allowed a subrogated insurer to seek reformation of a contract between its insured and a third party.  In that appeal, the defendant’s … Continue Reading

New Government Contractor “Blacklisting” Reporting Requirements Put on Hold

Hours before a controversial set of new reporting requirements for government contractors was set to take effect, a federal court in Texas enjoined implementation of the requirements across the country.… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Agrees to Review Three Oil and Gas Cases in 2016

On September 2, 2016, the Texas Supreme Court agreed to review three oil and gas cases involving issues pertinent to the industry and land and mineral owners. BP America Production Company v. Red Deer Resources, LLC In BP America Production Company v. Red Deer Resources, LLC, the lessee of a top lease, Red Deer, sued … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Rules Oil and Gas Producer Not Entitled to Sales Tax “Manufacturing Exemption”

On June 17, 2016, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that an oil and gas producer (“Southwest”) was not entitled to a statutory exemption from sales taxes on its purchases of casing, tubing and pumps used in the production of oil and gas (the “Equipment”). At issue in Southwest Royalties, Inc. v. Hegar was whether the … Continue Reading

Failure to Timely Pay Texas Ad Valorem Taxes: Reminders for Taxpayers and Secured Lenders

The extended downturn in the oilfield economy is showing up in some taxpayers’ inability to pay their Texas real property and personal property ad valorem taxes when those taxes become due.  This note reminds taxpayers what happens when the ad valorem taxes are not timely paid.  It also reminds lenders with security interests in real … Continue Reading

New Developments in the Determination of the Texas Franchise Tax Liability

The Texas Franchise Tax is imposed on taxable entities that do business in Texas or that are chartered or organized in the state.  Taxpayers subject to the Texas Franchise Tax may compute their tax liabilities under several alternative methods to determine which one results in the lowest amount of tax due. One such method is … Continue Reading

A Rose by Any Other Name: Texas Court of Appeals Says Nuisance “Symptoms of Discomfort” Require the Same Proof of Causation as “Disease”

In what may appropriately be called a “swing and a miss”, the Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio has rejected plaintiffs’ attempt to avoid the need for medical expert testimony in a toxic tort case by pleading damages for “symptoms of discomfort” instead of disease.  Cerny v. Marathon Oil Corp, et al., No. 04-14-00650-CV,  … Continue Reading

Texas Appeals Court Rules Assignee Retains All Acreage Covered by Assignment Under Retained-Acreage Clause

In yet another “retained-acreage” dispute, the Amarillo Court of Appeals recently ruled that an assignee was entitled to retain all acreage covered by the assignment of four leases, where the assignment’s retained-acreage clause invoked the maximum acreage prescribed by the applicable field rules governing proration units, and, in the absence of any such field rules, … Continue Reading
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