Tag: oil and gas attorney


10 Oil and Gas Cases to Watch in 2017

With the beginning of a new year, there are several oil cases pending in the Texas Supreme Court relevant to the oil and gas industry.  We’ll be following these cases throughout the year.  Sign up as a subscriber to oilandgaslawdigest.com to receive updates on these and other cases.

Here are ten cases that we will be watching:

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The 1989 JOA: Horizontal Modifications and Other Crucial Updates

The 1989 JOA is one of the most common O&G forms. However, updates are need in response to 25 years of case law and continually evolving custom & practice.


As we discussed in the last article pertaining to Oil and Gas Joint Operating Agreements, the JOA is one of the most commonly used instruments in the oil and gas industry today.  A JOA provides the crucial foundation upon which multiple leasehold cotenants can cooperate in the joint exploration, development, and production of oil and gas properties. For example, JOAs cover the terms and conditions under which the operator is to conduct operations, such as drilling the initial well, it provides a voting mechanism for future operations, and establishes a basis for which the costs of operations are to be paid.  In addition, the Form 610 describes how the cost and revenue sharing percentages of the parties are to be calculated, how the operators and non-operators will handle title issues, and also covers the potential future acquisition and/or disposition of interests within the contract area.

By far the most common form is the AAPL Form-610.  However, the last major revision of the Form-610 was made in 1989.  THerefore, this form simply does not take into account the last 25 years of crucial case law updates and changes to industry custom and practice.  As a result, many believe an update is sorely needed.

Recently, as will be discussed below and in future articles on this blog, the AAPL has created a new committee to update and revise the JOA to create a new major revision. Perhaps it will be referred to has the “2014 Form-610” or the “2015 JOA.” As of the date of this article, the committee has not yet finished this revision.

However, the committee has created and published a new minor revision to the 1989 JOA, designed to cover crucial aspects relating to horizontal operations.  In the next article in this series, we will cover many of the modifications introduced by  the committee in the Horizontal version of the 1989 Form 610 JOA.  Then in later articles, we will cover several important cases that have been decided in the last 25 years, many of which are routinely addressed in the Additional Provisions section of most JOAs today.
But for the topic of this article, what is this history of the AAPL Form 610 JOA? Why did AAPL publish a Horizontal version? Why has the AAPL formed a committee to produce a new major revision? Does it need a major overhaul? What are some shortcomings that have been experienced over the past 25 years?

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Introduction to Joint Operating Agreements

The joint operating agreement (“JOA”) is the most commonly used instrument in the oil and gas industry, surpassed only by the oil and gas lease. [1]Scott Lansdown, B. Reeder v. Wood County Energy LLC and the Application by Texas Courts of the “Exculpatory Clause” in Operating Agreements Used in Oil and Gas Operations, 8 Tex. J. Oil Gas & Energy L 202 (2013). A JOA provides the contractual basis for the cooperative exploration, development, and production of oil and gas properties among multiple leasehold cotenants. [2]Exxon Corp. v. Crosby-Miss. Resources, Ltd., 775 F. Supp. 969, 971-72 (S.D. Miss. 1991). By and large, the most commonly used JOA form is the “Form 610,” curated and published by the American Association of Professional Landmen (“AAPL”). [3]3 Ernest E. Smith & Jacqueline L. Weaver, Texas Law of Oil and Gas §17.1[A] (2d ed. 2012). Several other JOA forms have been adopted by the oil and gas industry, typically designed for use in specific circumstances, including (1) the Model Form of Offshore Operating Agreement AAPL Model Form 710-2002, and Model Form of Offshore Deepwater Operating Agreement AAPL-810 (2007), both designed for offshore oil and gas operations, (2) the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Rocky Mountain Unit Operating Agreement Form 2 – Divided Interest, designed for use in Federal Exploratory Units, and The American Petroleum Institute Forms, which are generally used for enhanced recovery operations as to fieldwide units. However, the AAPL Model Form 610 remains the most common JOA form for domestic onshore oil and gas production.

In this multi-part series, we will explore many areas of JOAs, from basic to advanced. In this first article, we will take a look at the basic purpose and function of a JOA. Read More »

Footnotes   [ + ]


Legalese: Standard Interpretive Boilerplate

“Legalese Schmegalese.” I first started reviewing contracts back in my days working with TIC Wyoming, Inc., a subsidiary of the Kiewitt  Corporation, reviewing large scale heavy industrial construction contracts for construction jobs such as oil refineries, natural gas compressor stations, and coal mine facilities.

I’ll be honest with you: my first impression of all the boilerplate legalese at the end of a contract was that it was totally unnecessary. I had the impression that these provisions were not ‘essential deal terms,’ and were drafted by some uptight committee of scholars.  This attitude is not uncommon amongst transactional attorneys – they are often concerned with ‘getting the deal done’ and making sure the ‘deal works.’

Since then, however, I have developed a different attitude. While the essence of the deal may be encapsulated in the other provisions of the document, subsequent dispute negotiations, arbitration, mediation, and litigation almost always involves the boilerplate language in one way or another. Read More »


Farmout Agreements: Key Decisions and Negotiation Points


As I stated in my Part One of my Farmout Agreement Series, farmout agreements can be somewhat less “straight-forward” than other common oil and gas agreements.  Contracts, Leases, JOA’s, for example, are each highly standardized and have one or more publishers of highly-adopted forms.  Farmout Agreements, on the other hand, range from mere one-page letter agreements to highly formalized and lengthy contracts, prepared and negotiated over several rounds of back and forth red-lining.  An attorney cannot simply turn to his form books (or form folder for the tech savvy), and is unlikely to find any comprehensive checklists for drafting the agreement.

While there is no standardized form, a standard set of terminology has certainly developed that will guide most decisions, negotiations, and drafting exercises.  Below, we’ll consider several of the most crucial provisions of a farmout agreement, including:

  1. The Duty Imposed;
  2. The Earning Barrier;
  3. The Interest to be Earned;
  4. Number of Wells to be Committed to the Agreement; and
  5. Timing of Issuance of Farmout Acreage.

Read More »


Where the Use of Forms Goes Wrong

The Proliferation of Forms:

The wide-spread use of forms in the oil and gas industry has created nothing short of a revolution in allowing land professionals to expedite the process of putting complex agreements in place.  Additionally, this “forms culture” has dramatically helped to ensure excellent quality legal drafting and coverage of legal concepts in a continuously developing and complex legal regime — oil and gas law.

One example of such a widely used form is the Model Form Joint Operating Agreement published by the AAPL. Additionally, several publishers have created their own version of the ubiquitous “Producer’s 88” oil and gas lease form (which, on an unrelated note, has caused great confusion due to the same name being used for a wide variety of lease forms).  The Association of International Petroleum Negotiators have also developed several forms for use in the oilpatch.  As one last example, Kanes Forms has published a wide variety of forms, such as affidavits, mineral and surface deeds, assignments, and various agreements for use in the oil and gas industry.

But is this widespread reliance on forms purely positive?  If not, then what are some of the major landmines to be aware of?

Where Are Forms Inadequate?

One of the first lessons I learned back when I was drafting and negotiating agreements in the construction industry was this: forms are a great starting place, but they shouldn’t be used blindly.   The exact same principal applies in Oil and Gas.  Some of the reasons for this include: Read More »


Dirty Tricks & Cheap Moves in the Oilpatch

High risk, high reward.  We in the oil and gas industry have been toughened; have been forced to learn to traverse the risk, and to reap the rewards.  Heck, oil and gas exploration and production is practically as synonymous with the “American Dream” as we can get.  The plentiful rewards that lie at the end of a successful oil and gas venture lead many into an epic journey fueled by palpable ambition and great effort.  We’ve all heard amazing tales tracing the paths of the oil and gas trailblazers, the ones who got lucky, and those who were willing to sacrifice to get there (if not, see “The Prize“).  But every possible path to high reward is guarded by a common vault-door: acceptance of high risk.

Unfortunately, as these stories show us, this risk to reward balance can and has lead many to lying, cheating, dishonesty, half-truths and otherwise misleading conversations, deals and agreements (again, see “The Prize”). However, this is all directly in conflict with the prevailing “unspoken rule” in the oil and gas business: honesty and fair dealing.  Call it what you will, “old boys club,” “gentlemen’s business,” “good ol’ boys,” etc.  The oil and gas industry is undeniably all about the relationships you have built, and the trust and rapport you have developed.

Nevertheless, in helping my clients negotiate and close all sorts of deals and resolve various disputes, I have inevitably ran across several “dirty tricks” and “cheap moves.”  The following is an explanation of some of these dirty or cheap oil and gas negotiation tactics, how to avoid them, and suggestions for responding when the tactics are spotted.
Read More »

© Copyright 2012-2018, McGinnis Lochridge LLP. 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!
Note: When choosing facebook or google, alerts will be sent to the email listed in that account.
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!