Texas Supreme Court Issues Decision in Oil and Gas Subsurface Trespass Case

Austin Oil and Gas Attorney, Gregory D. Jordan

Austin Oil and Gas Attorney, Gregory D. Jordan

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) October 11, 2017 – The Texas Supreme Court issued a decision in a closely watched case regarding whether trespass occurred when an oil and gas production company drilled horizontally through another party’s mineral interest to produce oil and gas from a lease held by the driller. The state high court upheld the opinions of the lower courts and stated that trespass did not occur.

“Horizontal drilling raises unique legal issues, and until the Texas Supreme Court decided this case, it was not entirely clear that a surface estate owner could drill through a subsurface estate in which they held no mineral rights,” said Gregory D. Jordan, an Austin oil and gas attorney with the Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan.

In the case, Lightning Oil Company v. Anadarko E&P Onshore, LLC, Anadarko obtained a lease for the subsurface mineral rights on the Chaparral Wildlife Refuge, but was not able to use the surface estate of the Refuge to drill wells. The Briscoe Ranch is located just north of the Refuge, with a mineral lease held by Lightning and the surface estate owned by Briscoe Ranch. Anadarko entered into an agreement with Briscoe Ranch to build several well pads on the surface of the property and drill horizontally through the subsurface to reach the minerals under the Refuge, with no “take points” along Lightning’s lease. Lightning filed a lawsuit claiming trespass and tortious interference with contractual relations, seeking a temporary injunction preventing Anadarko from drilling.

In 2014, the trial court denied the request for a temporary injunction and dismissed the case. Lightning appealed to the San Antonio Court of Appeals, which also sided with Anadarko in 2015. In May 2017, the Texas Supreme Court upheld the decisions of the lower courts. The state high court said that while mineral estate holders have the exclusive right to possess and appropriate oil and gas when a lease is in effect, they do not have the right to “possess the specific place or space where the minerals are located.” The Court also found that the small amount of Lightning’s minerals that would be displaced by the drilling was outweighed by the interests of the industry and society in “maximizing oil and gas recovery.”

“The case makes good common sense,” notes Jordan. “To hold otherwise would effectively eliminate certain acreage from potential production.”

To learn more, visit http://www.theaustintriallawyer.com/

Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan
5608 Parkcrest Drive, Suite 310
Austin, Texas 78731
Call: 512-419-0684

View Larger Map

  • Texas telecommunications company sues Comcast claiming tortious interference
    A small Texas telecommunications company has filed a lawsuit against cable giant Comcast, alleging tortious interference with contract. In the lawsuit, Anthony Luna claims Comcast dug up and destroyed cables owned by his company, Telecom Cable. Luna alleges that Comcast workers cut cables and disrupted service to his customers in the Houston area. The complaint […]
  • Texas appellate court rules against owner of royalty interest in fraudulent inducement lawsuit
    A Texas appellate court held that the owner of a royalty interest could not claim fraudulent inducement with regard to its settlement with a Shell Oil affiliate that operated the oil and gas property. In 2014, a Texas state court jury found that the Syrian American Oil Corp. (Samoco) was fraudulently induced into entering a […]
  • Eight ex-employees of Texas sanitation company claim racial discrimination
    Eight African American employees of a Texas sanitation company have filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination and retaliation. Dantrell Patterson, Lamonte Young, Demetrius Patterson, Tadarious Dixon, Keithdrick Patterson, Jarvis Hill, Jermaine Bell and Derrick Robert filed the lawsuit against Sanitation Solutions Inc. in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas on April 20. The […]