Exploration & Production

With the advent of the shale gas phenomenon and other new technologies, exploration and production of oil and gas will continue to flourish in the drive to meet the ever-increasing worldwide demand for power. Exploration and production activities involve complex financial and contractual agreements, multiple stakeholders, including investors, landowners, and operators, and high stakes for all participants.

Copeland & Rice lawyers have participated in lawsuits arising from events occurring during exploration and production of hydrocarbons, such as:

  • Down-hole failures
  • Well-bore blowouts
  • Partnership disputes
  • Joint venture disputes
  • Lease cancellation disputes due to failure to produce in paying quantities
  • Breach of lease, including breach of implied covenants
  • Lien disputes
  • Royalty interest disputes

These occurrences give rise to many different types of claims, each of which involves highly specific facts and circumstances.  Representing clients in lawsuits arising from E&P events, we have addressed issues including:

  • Contract construction and breach
  • Breach of lease
  • Lease cancellation
  • Breach of joint operating agreement
  • Fraud
  • Negligence
  • Indemnity
  • Force majeure
  • Trespass
  • Surface damage
  •  Subsurface damage
  • Toxic exposure
  • Contamination
  • Personal injury

Representative Exploration & Production experience includes:

  • Represented a large independent oil and gas company in a suit seeking to recover damages and other relief against a joint interest owner acting as operator for numerous oil and gas wells.  The case, which involved the operator’s conduct of operations related to a multiple well drilling program covering a large geographic area and claims relating to virtually every aspect of the development of the field, was settled on terms very favorable to the client.
  • Represented current and former employees of an independent oil and gas company responsible for developing a substantial oil field in South Texas in a suit brought by royalty interest owners claiming trespass and seeking to invalidate leases included in the drilling unit surrounding a prolific oil and gas well; summary judgment was granted in favor of the clients by the trial court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
  • Defended claims against operators alleging damage to surface estate.
  • Assisted an energy company in replying to media and regulatory agency investigations and in preparation for litigation in the immediate aftermath of an explosion and fire on an oil production platform in which three workers were killed.
  • Represented various parties in cases involving drilling problems and equipment failures, including blowout preventers, tubulars, and downhole tools, resulting in loss or damage to oil and gas wells.
  • Represented a London insurance consortium and its insured, a drilling contractor, in a suit brought against the suppliers of defective oil field casing to recover monies paid out by the insurers and the uninsured losses of the drilling contractor. After three days of trial, the case settled for an amount that covered all losses sustained by the insurers and the insured contractor.
  • Represented a major oil and gas company in a suit brought by a non-operating working interest owner, complaining of many aspects of the design and completion of a deep Wilcox well, and seeking to recover significant damages, including loss of production and out of pocket drilling costs, arising from a dry hole. The case was settled on very favorable terms.
  • Represented a major energy company in an 18-month, worldwide investigation related to potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act associated with the use of a freight forwarding agent.
  • In federal court, represented private equity firm holding majority ownership interest in oilfield services company in defense of trade secret misappropriation claims brought by supplier of downhole gas separators in connection with firm’s sale of company to third-party, which was sued for misappropriation, patent infringement, and fraud.

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.