After a long Fourth of July weekend, I returned to the office to find two stellar new publications from the Oil, Gas & Energy Resources Section of the Texas bar in my inbox.
The first is a hardcover compilation of “Twenty Cases That Shaped Texas Oil and Gas Jurisprudence,” published by the Section itself. Right away, I noticed that the book is beautiful, worthy of a place on a display shelf or coffee table. But the content is also outstanding. The editors included not just the twenty cases themselves, but also recruited a who’s who of prominent Texas oil and gas practitioners and scholars to provide commentary about why each case was selected, additional facts influencing the case behind the scenes, and how the case fits in the long arch of Texas oil and gas law. Included were cases I expected: Elliff, Koontz, Vela, & Middleton, but also several surprises, some of which I still need to read. All in all, this is an excellent publication and a wonderful surprise from the Section.
The second arrival was the quarterly Section report from the State Oil and Gas bar, which never disappoints in terms of relevance to current practice. From a high-stakes civil litigation perspective, I found two articles particularly worth reading.
- First was “Upstream and Midstream Enforcement Trends” by James Martin, Jennifer Keane, and Patrick Leahy – a comprehensive survey of recent regulatory actions by federal and state agencies affecting oil and gas operations. Though I do not practice in the regulatory space, the events addressed in the article – excess emissions, oil spills, etc. – regularly spawn parallel civil lawsuits (property damage, lost production, royalty underpayment, surface use, force majeure, contract liability, personal injury, and so forth), as I’ve seen in my own practice. Staying up to date on regulatory enforcement provides a window into what keeps my clients up at night besides their pending civil cases, foreshadows at least some of the kinds of civil cases I should expect to see in the future, and keeps me apprised of technological developments in the industry so I can better understand my clients’ businesses. This article helped with all of that, especially the summary of recent consent decrees (essentially regulatory settlements) entered into by major producers for tank battery emissions.
- The second was “Area of Mutual Interest Agreements” by JJ McAnelly and Molly Butkus, an introduction to major legal issues regarding the enforceability of AMIs, which in my anecdotal experience, are an increasingly common basis for oil and gas lawsuits. The authors’ treatment of whether and how the Rule Against Perpetuities applies to AMIs in multiple jurisdictions serves is a handy go-to summary for deal and trial lawyers alike tasked with drafting, enforcing, or busting AMIs, as the case may be.
Happy reading to all in the oil and gas bar. Until then, keep operating prudently.