Telecommuting Employees and COVID-19: Part 1

Independent Contractors v. Employees In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a large percentage of the U.S. workforce began to work from home and continue to do so. This three-part blog series will address common issues employers face as many workers continue to telecommute, and more organizations consider the long-term benefits of allowing employees to work remotely. Telecommuting presents employers with unique compliance issues...
Read More

The Potential Impact of McGirt v Oklahoma on Oil and Gas Operations

In McGirt v. Oklahoma, (1) the United States Supreme Court ruled that a large portion of eastern Oklahoma is included in the Creek Nation Reservation. Therefore, this land is subject to tribal or federal criminal law instead of Oklahoma state law, even though most of it is now owned by non-tribe members.  The federal government conveyed the reservation to the Creek tribe with the promise that  the lands would “never be embraced or included within, or annexed to,...
Read More

Understanding Adverse Possession: Part Four

In our final installment of “Understanding Adverse Possession” we examine how the existence of a co-tenancy can affect a claim of adverse possession: is it possible for one cotenant to gain ownership through adverse possession against another cotenant?  A co-tenancy exists when two or more parties concurrently own interests in the same property, as in joint ownership or a landlord/tenant relationship. This type of...
Read More

Understanding Adverse Possession: Part Three

As we determined in Part Two of this series, once the surface and mineral estates in a tract of land have been severed, possession of the surface will not suffice to adversely possess the mineral estate. How, then, would a party possess a separate mineral estate? Certain factors considered to determine possession of the surface, such as enclosure by fence or notorious possession, would be difficult...
Read More

Understanding Adverse Possession: Part Two

In our second installment of “Understanding Adverse Possession,” we examine how timing affects claims of adverse possession: what is the difference between adversely possessing prior to severance, versus after severance has occurred?  Possession Before Severance  If suspected adverse possession takes place before an act of mineral severance, the use and possession of the surface alone for the relevant statutory period is sufficient to establish the claim as to the entirety of both the surface...
Read More

Production in Paying Quantities in Texas

The price of oil crashed and remained depressed through the first half of 2020. Operators were foreseeable victims of this price action, but lessors were also affected, and many experienced a reduction in royalties received from production. Lessors distressed by lower payments may seek to cancel a lease by claiming that the lessee has failed to produce in paying quantities and maintain the lease past its primary term.  In this context, it is especially important...
Read More

Texas’ First Purchaser Statute Only Has Teeth in Texas

This year, global oil markets experienced a significant surplus of supply over demand for oil, near-record domestic production and a global demand shock brought forth by the coronavirus containment measures. The imbalance between a surplus supply of oil and a historic destruction in demand for oil during the beginning of the year caused the price of WTI crude oil to drop to an historic low of –$37.63 per barrel on April 20, 2020.   Producers, especially those in the U.S., reacted...
Read More

Inactive Wells: Will You Be Left Holding the Bag?

Non-operators may be left holding the bag when it comes to inactive wells. In some cases where an operator files for bankruptcy, Texas law states that non-operators may be responsible for plugging an inactive well.  Failure to comply with this mandate carries a litany of consequences from the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC). Inactive and abandoned wells are governed by Texas Natural Resources Code, Title 16, Part 1, Chapter 3 of the Texas Administrative Code and overseen and enforced by the RRC.  The...
Read More