U.S. Capital

Litigation Landslide Looms on Horizon for Energy Industry, Local Markets – Oil & Gas Attorney Prepares for Spike in Legal Actions as US Oil Crunch Intensifies Impact on Houston Economy

May 19, 2015


Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) May 19, 2015 – First-quarter reports for 2015, released by US oil producers in mid-April, showed record losses across the energy sector – as industry insiders and analysts had been predicting since January. Meanwhile, falling profits hit close to home, spurring large-scale employee layoffs and priming the local legal arena for an influx of market-driven litigation.

Civil litigator Pete T. Patterson, who represents both businesses and individuals within the oil and gas industry, has followed the turbulent market closely over the past ten months in anticipation of broad-scope legal backlash.

Oil prices reached multi-year lows early in the quarter – with WTI crude down almost 60 percent per barrel – but were then steadily climbing as March came to a close, giving some stabilization to a market that has been in freefall since last summer.

The world’s first and second largest oil services providers – Schlumberger Ltd.and Halliburton Co. – survived the brutal first quarter relatively well, according to individual press reports released on April 20 and 16 respectively. Both of the Houston-headquartered firms implemented cost-cutting initiatives – including drastic reductions in drilling activity – early on, effectively mitigating the effects of plunging prices per barrel.

Patterson commented on those kind of preemptive efforts in a mid-March interview. He called resultant employment layoffs and contract terminations a “trickle-down effect” of the technology-driven domestic drilling boom as it began hitting companies at the production and manufacturing levels.

“The big guys can weather the storm,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that a flooded market won’t have overflow – which will then create significant effects on industry employment, across the board.”

In a quarterly reporting call on April 20, Halliburton announced that major operational scale-backs over the past six months had forced the firm to cut 9,000 jobs – more than 10 percent of its total workforce. Schlumberger took even more drastic action, announcing on April 16 a plan to cut 11,000 jobs. That move will bring the top producer’s year-to-date layoffs to more than 20,000 – including at least 9,000 preemptive cuts implemented over the past three months.

Patterson said he expected those mounting consequences on the City’s heavily energy-dependent workforce to inevitably affect other sectors, producing a “ripple effect within the Houston economy.” With oil-crunch after effects creating discernible uncertainty in multiple local markets, his firm is preparing for an inevitable litigation spike involving broken contracts, corporate mergers, O&G lease disputes, severed employment relationships and other industry-related conflicts.

Patterson recently represented Houston-based exploration company Cathlind Energy Ltd. in one such dispute over a hotly contested O&G lease with Midland-based Great Western Drilling Ltd. Patterson P.C. partnered with the Kim Law Firm in that case [Great Western Drilling Ltd. v. Pathfinder Oil and Gas Inc., No. 2005-45031] – ultimately winning a trial verdict for their client worth more than $20 million in past and future profits from the disputed lease.

About Pete T. Patterson

Pete T. Patterson is an experienced, Houston-based attorney whose practice areas include civil, commercial and business litigation as well as employment law. Over the course of his career, he has secured substantial trial verdicts, judgments and recoveries for clients in cities throughout Texas and across the U.S.

A State Bar of Texas member for 25 years, Patterson is among only 5 percent of practicing attorneys with Board Certification in PI Trial Law and an AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell. He holds professional memberships with the American Board of Trial Advocates, the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and the National Trial Lawyers of America as well as the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Patterson has been featured as a Texas Super Lawyer in Texas Monthly Magazine for multiple years running and was honored as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) in 2001. He remains an active member of EO today.

Pete T. Patterson provides confidential, no-cost case evaluations from his Neartown-area law office, located at 309 Yoakum Blvd.