Royalty Free of Post-Production Costs

The Texas Supreme Court, in Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. v. Hyder, No. 14-0302, 2015 Tex. LEXIS 554 (June 12, 2015), addressed the issue of allocation of post-production costs and whether, based on a certain lease royalty provision, an overriding royalty must bear its share of post-production costs. The dispute in Hyder centered on the interpretation of a lease royalty provision.  Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. (“Chesapeake”), as lessee, acquired an interest in 948 mineral acres in the Barnett Shale previously leased by the Hyder family.  Id., at *2-3.  The Hyder family had previously executed a lease with the original lessee containing three royalty…
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Subsurface Trespass Remains Undecided in Texas

In Envtl. Processing Sys., L.C. v. FPL Farming Ltd., No. 12-0905, 2015 Tex. LEXIS 113 (Feb. 6, 2015), the Supreme Court of Texas concluded that lack of consent is a required element of common law trespass, but declined to address whether subsurface wastewater migration is actionable as a common law trespass in Texas. The dispute in Envtl. Processing Sys., L.C. v. FPL Farming Ltd. arose between FPL Farming Ltd. (“FPL Farming”), who owned a rice farm in Liberty County, Texas, and Environment Processing Systems (“EPS”), who leased an adjacent tract of land upon which it constructed and operated a wastewater…
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The Duty of the Executive to Non-Executives

The Texas Supreme Court, in KCM Fin., LLC v. Bradshaw, No. 13-0199, 2015 Tex. LEXIS 220 (March 6, 2015), addressed the nature of the duty owed by the executive to the nonparticpating royalty owners or non-executive mineral interest owners and under what circumstances the executive has fulfilled its duty.  The Court described the duty owed by an executive as a duty of “utmost good faith and fair dealing,” but refused to create a bright line rule outlining the nature or boundaries of the executive’s duty.  Id., at *3-4. The dispute in Bradshaw centered on the obligation of the executive to…
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Application of the Implied Temporary Cessation of Production Doctrine

In Landover Prod. Co., LLC v. Endeavor Energy Res., L.P., No. 11-13-00132-CV, 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 11990 (October 31, 2014), the Eastland Court of Appeals applied the implied temporary cessation of production doctrine to preserve a lease in its secondary term because the lease did not have an explicit savings clause that applied to the secondary term of the lease. The Defendants (collectively “Endeavor”) owned the working interest under an 80-acre oil and gas lease.  Id., at *1.  The primary term of the lease had expired, but the lease continued to operate under the secondary term because there was production…
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Off-Lease Drilling Locations and Claims of Subsurface Trespass

In Lightning Oil Co. v. Anadarko E&P Onshore, No. 04-14-00152-CV, 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 11844 (Oct. 29, 2014), the San Antonio Court of Appeals concluded that a mineral estate owner was not entitled to injunctive relief to prevent an adjacent mineral estate owner from drilling horizontal wells crossing through the other party’s mineral estate to access the adjacent mineral estate.  This case is significant for operators that drill multiple horizontal wells from a single pad location and for operators that drill horizontal wells from off-lease surface locations. The dispute in Lightning Oil arose from Anadarko E&P Onshore’s (“Anadarko”) attempt to…
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Federal Legislative Update: Mineral Royalty Valuation Policy

August 26, 2020 — In an effort to bolster America’s position in energy independence, the U.S. Department of Interior proposed a new rule to ease its regulation on how royalties for minerals, such as oil, gas and coal from federal lands, are calculated. The proposal would amend portions of the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (“ONNR”) regulations to lift certain royalty restrictions and restore pre-2016 policies that favor historical practices on valuation. According to a statement by the U.S. Secretary of Interior David L. Bernhardt, “this proposal provides regulatory certainty and clarity to States, Tribes and stakeholders, removing unnecessary and…
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Louisiana Oil and Gas Legislative Update: HB123

July 28, 2020 — The 2020 Louisiana Legislative Regular Session enacted a change to the method of allocating mineral proceeds for trusts.  By Louisiana House Bill 123 which was enacted on June 4, 2020, and will take effect on January 1, 2021, the Louisiana Legislature revised La. R.S. §9:2152 to resemble Texas Property Code §116.174 and remove the application of the “open mines doctrine” in trusts. Prior Louisiana law allocated royalty payments to be apportioned between the principal and income of a trust at the rate of twenty-seven and one-half percent (27.5%) of the gross proceeds to principal and the remaining seventy-two…
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Wyoming Oil and Gas Legislative Update: HB14

June 17, 2020 — Wyoming’s oil and gas regulations were recently amended in an effort to attract energy development in the state. Among the new laws is House Bill 14, which changes the way operators force pool nonconsenting owners. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has authority to issue pooling orders to pool interests located within a drilling and spacing unit (“DSU”). WYO. STAT. § 30-5-109 currently provides that when two or more separately owned tracts of land are embraced in a DSU, and in the absence of voluntary pooling, any interested party may enter an order pooling all…
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