Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Ratification by Acceptance of Royalties?

In BPX Operating Co. v. Strickhausen, 2021 Tex. LEXIS 468, the Texas Supreme Court determined that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that a lessor had impliedly ratified an unauthorized pooling agreement by depositing royalty checks that had been calculated on a pooled basis.  To make this determination, the Court considered the totality of the lessor’s actions and whether, considered objectively, they provided clear evidence of implied ratification as a matter of law. Margaret Strickhausen (“Strickhausen”) owned a fifty percent mineral interest in a tract of land in La Salle, County.  The other fifty percent of the mineral…
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Supreme Court of Montana Ruling Roars that Dinosaur Fossils are not “Minerals”

This case has its origins in the Cretaceous period, which dates to over 65 million years ago.  The fossilized remains of several dinosaurs were recently discovered on a present-day ranch in Garfield County, Montana, and the rarity and value of the fossils inevitably led to a dispute as to the rightful owner of these unique discoveries.  Before Murray v. BEJ Minerals, LLC, 464 P.3d 80 (Mont. 2020), the Montana courts had not ruled on whether fossils belonged to the mineral estate or the surface estate when the minerals were severed, and the subject mineral deed did not specifically reserve the…
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New Mexico Court of Appeals Finds that Oil Conservation Commission Acted Legally in Their Adoption of New Rules for Horizonal Wells

In Jalapeno Corp. v. N.M. Oil Conservation Comm'n, No. A-1-CA-37449, 2020 N.M. App. Unpub. LEXIS 292, the Court of Appeals of New Mexico ruled in favor of the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division (“OCD”), after a challenge from an oil and gas operator, allowing the OCD to "comprehensively revise the rules governing horizontal wells."  The updated regulations modernized well spacing, infill horizontal wells, and transitional provisions as they relate to horizontal spacing units. Soon after the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission (“Commission”) adopted the OCD’s revised rules, Jalapeno appealed, alleging that the rules were arbitrary and capricious and contrary to…
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