Author: Ian McNeill

Ian McNeill’s practice focuses on the oil and gas industry advising clients on division orders, title defects, curative requirements, royalty and rental issues as well as lease maintenance provisions and assignments analysis. Ian has also rendered division order opinions and title opinions involving complex ownerships, leases held by production, depth and mineral severances and pooling agreements in Texas and Ohio.

28Jun
The Texas Supreme Court Decides Whether “Subject To” Clause Alters Who Must Bear NPRI Burden

The Texas Supreme Court Decides Whether “Subject To” Clause Alters Who Must Bear NPRI Burden

In a decision that focuses on the parties’ intent as expressed within the four corners of the document, the Texas Supreme Court in Wenske v. Ealy [1]13-15-00012-CV, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2017) decided whether the language of a deed puts the entire burden of an outstanding non-participating royalty interest (“NPRI”) on the grantees or whether the NPRI proportionately burdens both the grantor’s reserved interest and the interest conveyed to the grantees.  The grantors argued that their reserved interest is not burdened by the NPRI, while the grantees argued that the NPRI proportionately burdens both their interest and the grantors’ interest.  The Court ruled that, based on the language in the deed, the NPRI proportionately burdens both the conveyed and reserved interest.

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Footnotes   [ + ]

17Apr
Railroad Deed Controversy: 100+ Year Old Instrument Ruled an Easement, Not a Fee Simple Conveyance

Railroad Deed Controversy: 100+ Year Old Instrument Ruled an Easement, Not a Fee Simple Conveyance

 

BNSF Railway Co. v. Chevron Midcontinent, LP

This dispute arises from a deed executed in 1903 from W.H.C. Goode to BNSF’s predecessor covering land in Upton County, Texas.  When Chevron began producing from underneath BNSF’s railway tracks, BNSF sued for trespass of title, arguing that the 1903 deed conveyed fee simple title.  Chevron argues that BNSF acquired only an easement.  Thus, the issue before the Court was whether the parties to the 1903 deed intended to convey fee simple title or only an easement.  Although the deed contained the term “fee simple” in the habendum clause, the court ultimately decided the deed conveyed an easement because it contained terms throughout the deed that suggested the parties intended to convey only an easement.  Read More »

25Oct
The Texas Supreme Court Decides Whether “Subject To” Clause Alters Who Must Bear NPRI Burden

Graham and Hysaw Analyzed in New Deed Interpretation Dispute out of San Antonio CoA

Earlier this year, we reported the San Antonio Court of Appeals decision in Dragon v. Harrell, a fixed versus floating royalty case.  Here, the court is again confronted with the same issue.  Relying on its decision in Graham v. Prochaska, the court explains why the estate misconception theory does not apply and explains how the interest in dispute is a fixed nonparticipating royalty interest.

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25Oct
Mystery Solved! 100+ Year Old Instrument Ruled to be a Mineral Deed

100+ Year-Old Title Dispute: Instrument Ruled a Mineral Deed, Not a Lease

Think your early chain of title has been cured by the passage of time?  As this recent case shows, even 100+ year-old instruments can be the subject of new disputes. The Tyler Court of Appeals, in Richardson v. Mills [1] Richardson v. Mills, 12-15-00170-CV, 2016 WL 5800261 (Tex. App.—Tyler Oct. 5, 2016, no. pet. h.)   recently reviewed whether a 100+ year-old instrument was a lease or a mineral deed, and the effect of a release entered approximately two years later.

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Footnotes   [ + ]

4Aug
Midstream Update: Eastland Court of Appeals Extends Denbury Test to Crude Petroleum Pipelines

Midstream Update: Eastland Court of Appeals Extends Denbury Test to Crude Petroleum Pipelines

This is a condemnation case from Comanche County, Texas.  In January 2013, the Railroad Commission of Texas designated BridgeTex as a common carrier and granted it a T-4 permit.  BridgeTex condemned an easement across Saner’s land and constructed a pipeline to transport crude petroleum from the Permian Basin to the Texas Gulf Coast.  Both the special commissioners and the trial court determined that the easement was for public use, and Saner now challenges the trial court’s finding.  The Eastland Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment.  Read More »

25Apr
The Texas Supreme Court Decides Whether “Subject To” Clause Alters Who Must Bear NPRI Burden

The Latest Shot Fired in the Fixed Versus Floating Royalty Battle

This is a deed interpretation case out ofthe San Antonio Court of Appeals, arisingfrom the 218th Judicial District Court of Karnes County, Texas.

In 1991, the Harrells executed a warranty deed (“1991 Deed”) that conveyed approximately 10 acres of land to the Dragons. The 1991 Deed was subject to prior reservations and it contained the following new reservation by the Harrells:

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21Sep

How Changes to SEC Disclosure Requirements Five Years Ago are Affecting E&P Companies Today

Effective January 1, 2010, the SEC adopted amendments to its oil and gas reporting requirements for publicly traded exploration and production companies.  Among the amendments was the expansion of the definition of “PUD” (proved undeveloped reserves).  Under the new rules, E&P companies are allowed to include in their reserve report PUDs that they were not able to disclose under the previous rules.  The catch is that if an E&P company does not timely develop its PUDs, it may be forced to write them off.

Fast forward five years:  2015 – The price of oil has dropped dramatically causing E&P companies to significantly reign in their operations.  But what about developing those PUDs that E&P companies listed on their reserve report five years ago?  This article will address how changes to the SEC disclosure rules five years ago are impacting E&P companies today. Read More »

22Jun

Utica Update: The Supreme Court of Ohio Weighs In On the Dormant Mineral Act

The Supreme Court of Ohio has begun to resolve the confusion surrounding Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”) as it issued its first decision on the DMA in Dodd v. Croskey on June 18, 2015.  The Court held that, under the 2006 version of the DMA, a claim to preserve that was filed after the expiration of the 20-year window but within 60 days of service of the surface owner’s notice of abandonment was sufficient to preserve a severed oil and gas interest.

The confusion results from two very different versions of the statute that co-exist – one enacted in 1989 and the other enacted in 2006.  The main difference between the two versions, aside from each focusing on different 20-year windows to determine when a severed oil and gas interest should be deemed abandoned, is that the 1989 version provides that a severed oil and gas interest will automatically revert to the surface owner without any notice afforded to the owner of that severed interest whereas the 2006 version sets forth a procedural vehicle that the surface owner must initiate before a severed oil and gas interest can be deemed abandoned.

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© Copyright 2014, Austin W. Brister. All Rights Reserved. DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is for general information purposes only. This article should not be substituted for legal advice and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or reading this article does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You are encouraged to contact an attorney for legal advice concerning the information provided in this article.
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We keep clients and subscribers updated on case law alerts and insightful articles. Join more than 2,000+ in-house attorneys and landmen who receive our occasional alerts and summaries. All for free!
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