Category Archives: Oil and Gas Law

Questions from Tiffany’s Desk: Set Back Rules for Pipelines and Oil Rigs

Question:  Is there a rule requiring a certain setback distance between a home and an oil or gas well or pipeline? Answer:  There is no state-wide setback rule for oil and gas wells or pipelines in Texas.  The state agency charged with governing oil and gas production, the Texas Railroad Commission, has passed no such state-wide regulation.  According to the Texas Railroad Commission website, “The Railroad Commission does not regulate how close a gas or oil well can be drilled to a residential property.” Instead, the RRC has… Read More →

Surface Use Agreements: What They Are and How To Get One

As we have previously discussed, in Texas, the mineral estate is dominant over the surface estate.  This means that a mineral owner (or lessees, as the case frequently is) has the right to use as much of the surface estate as is reasonably necessary for the production of minerals like oil and gas without compensation to the surface owner.  One way for surface owners to protect themselves is by entering into a Surface Use Agreement. What They Are Initially, I want to note that the best way to… Read More →

Agriculutral Law: What To Watch in 2015

As everyone is recovering from the New Year celebrations and getting back to the grindstone, I thought it would be fun to highlight a few of the major ag law issues to watch in 2015. Water Disputes Unfortunately, this issue will likely top the list every year for the near future.  Across the country we are seeing more and more water-related disputes.  In addition to the issues outlined in my 2014 Year in Review post, there are two additional issues I think will be in the forefront this year. Water… Read More →

Multi-Million Dollar Settlements for New Mexico Royalty Owners

Two class action lawsuits have been settled in favor of New Mexico royalty and overriding royalty owners. Devon Energy Corporation and Burlington Resources have settled claims that they underpaid royalties in the San Juan Basin by improperly deducting costs of treating and transporting coalbed methane gas. In Davis v. Devon Energy Corp., New Mexico First Judicial District Court No. D-0101-CV-2003-01590, Devon settled the case for $27.75 million. In Ideal v. Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Company LP, New Mexico First Judicial District Court No. D-0101-CV-2003-02309, the defendants paid… Read More →

December 9, 2014 Weekly Round Up

Because I did not get the Weekly Round Up post up last Friday, I figured better late than never, so here is the first-ever Tuesday weekly round up of ag law stories in the news. * LCRA Seeks Approval to Cut Off Downstream Irrigation Releases for Fourth Year in a Row.  In a story that is unfortunately becoming all to common, the Lower Colorado River Authority voted 11-2 to seek permission from the TCEQ to curtail downstream releases from the Highland Lakes.  The curtailment would not just impact… Read More →

Case Analyzes “Operations” Language in Oil and Gas Lease

* Please remember to vote for the Texas Ag Law Blog in the “Niche” category of the ABA Top 100 Blawgs!  Click here between now and December 19!* A recent case from the Waco Court of Appeals, Rippy Interests, LLC v. Nash, illustrates an important issue to consider when negotiating oil and gas leases. [Read full opinion here.] Lease Background Nash owned mineral rights for 1,888 acres in Leon County.  He entered into a lease with Range Production, who later assigned the lease to Rippy Interests, LLC. The lease was for a primary… Read More →

Trespass of the Mineral Estate?

An interesting case between Lightning oil Company and Anadarko E&P Onshore, LLC is currently  making its way through the Texas judicial system.  The case raises the following question.  Where an oil and gas production company seeks to drill a  horizontal well through the mineral interest of another, in order to produce oil and gas from a lease held by the driller, does trespass occur? Facts The Briscoe Ranch sits just north of the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area (CWMA) in Dimmit County, Texas.  Lightning holds the mineral lease for the… Read More →

November 21, 2014 Weekly Round Up

We made it to Friday!  Tomorrow I will be teaching my last law school class at the Texas A&M School of Law in Ft. Worth.  I have so enjoyed the opportunity to teach this class and was fortunate to have an absolutely outstanding group of students.  To those students visiting the blog, welcome and thanks for a great semester! Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week. * Railroad Commission Finalizes New Disposal Well Safety Rule.  The Texas Railroad Commission has promulgated a new… Read More →

New York Times Article Highlights Surface Owner Hardship in Texas Oil Boom

Last week, the New York Times published an article titled, “A County Resents Oil Drilling, Despite the Money It Brings In.”  The author featured Glasscock County, Texas and, in particular, cotton farmer Dennis Seidenberger.  The article did an excellent job at highlighting the hardships facing surface owners, who do not own any portion of the mineral estate underlying their land, in Texas. Mineral v. Surface Estates Under Texas law, ownership of the surface of the land and the minerals underlying the land may be severed.  This means that oftentimes,… Read More →

November 14, 2014 Weekly Round Up

Another weekend has arrived!  I hope you have all managed to stay warm during this first major winter snap of the season.  Here are a few ag law stories making news this week. *  Article Profiles Karnes City Response to Oil Boom.  The Texas Tribune ran an interesting article on how Karnes City, in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale, is handling the impacts of the current oil boom.  The article highlights the benefits that the oil field has brought to the town, including money for a new high school,… Read More →