Denbury Seeks Supreme Court Relief

By:  Michael K. Reer

On July 12, 2017, Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas, LLC filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the Texas Supreme Court, seeking immediate possession of a contested pipeline easement in Jefferson County, Texas. The District Court denied Denbury’s request for a temporary restraining order, finding that no writ of possession to Denbury has been entered because the landowner is currently enjoined from accessing the eminent domain award. Denbury contends that it has fully satisfied the requirements in the Texas Property Code for full possession of the property and notes that immediate access is required for Denbury to comply with federal regulations. The case is In re Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas, LLC, No.____ (filed July 12, 2017).
Monday, July 24, 2017

HFB Publishes Texas Supreme Court Update

By: Michael K. Reer

On July 17, 2017, the American Oil and Gas Reporter published “Texas Supreme Court Decision Clarifies Surface Estate Rights,” a Harris, Finley & Bogle analysis of three recent Texas Supreme Court decisions, Lightning Oil, Forest Oil, and Red Deer Resources. In Lightning Oil, the Texas Supreme Court determined that, based on the facts presented, permission from the surface estate owner alone was sufficient to allow a nonlessee operator to drill through the subsurface to reach minerals on an adjoining tract. In Forest Oil, the Texas Supreme Court addressed whether the Texas Railroad Commission has exclusive or primary jurisdiction over claims for environmental contamination. In Red Deer Resources, the Texas Supreme Court considered the application of a shut-in royalty clause to a 2,000 acre lease held by a well that produced fewer than 10Mcf per day.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Texas Supreme Court Finds Contamination Claims Barred By Limitations

By: Michael K. Reer

On February 24, 2017, the Supreme Court of Texas found that a plaintiff’s oil-field contamination claims are barred by the state’s four-year statute of limitations because the claims were brought more than four years after the alleged spills and releases occurred. The plaintiff in the case alleged oil-field contamination claims resulting from an operator’s production activities that occurred over a 60-year period. Once the operator sold its leasehold interest in the tract, the plaintiff hired an environmental manager to investigate whether the tract had been contaminated from development operations. The environmental manager alleged that 1.2 acres of the tract suffered contamination, and estimated that remediation would cost $6.3 million. The plaintiff sought an injunction requiring the operator to remediate the alleged contamination.

The Texas Supreme Court found that the statute of limitations began to run when the plaintiff became aware of the alleged contamination. Deposition testimony demonstrated that the plaintiff was aware of periodic spills throughout the operator’s tenure on the tract, but that none of the spills occurred within four years of the date of the lawsuit. The Court found that where the plaintiff is actually aware of the spills that allegedly result in contamination, the limitations clock begins to run immediately, and not when the scope of the contamination is investigated or understood.

The case is ExxonMobil Corp. v. Lazy R Ranch, LC, et al., No. 15-0270 (Tex. Feb. 24, 2017).
Friday, March 10, 2017

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