Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP offers clients the full range of legal services in the domestic and international oil and gas industry. We represent clients in both transactional work and litigation of oil and gas industry disputes, including federal and state governmental enforcement cases. Our oil and gas lawyers work with clients in the legal aspects of oil and gas exploration, operation, production, sales, transportation, refining, and financing. In addition, we handle acquisitions and divestitures of both producing and nonproducing oil and gas and mining assets. Combined with other natural resources lawyers and the broader group of tax, corporate, regulatory, environmental, public lands, and litigation lawyers who are experienced in oil and gas matters, DGS offers one of the strongest oil and gas practices in the U.S.
We represent a diverse group of clients in the oil and gas industry, including geophysical companies, exploration geologists, drilling companies, oil and gas lessees, mineral owners, operators, producers, pipeline companies, refiners, suppliers, major banks and other institutional lenders, and investors. These clients range from individuals, partnerships, independents, and small companies to major joint ventures and Fortune 500 companies. Many of our clients are foreign, including companies based in Canada, France, Germany, England, Japan, and Australia. We also assist U.S. clients with activities in numerous foreign countries.
DGS has significant experience in the examination of title and the preparation of acquisition, drilling, division order and financing opinions covering fee, federal and Indian lands in the states of Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Our extensive title experience allows DGS to provide an experienced and efficient title due diligence team in dealing with oil and gas acquisition and divestiture transactions.
DGS represents clients before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to obtain orders establishing spacing and forced pooling. We have worked closely with our real estate group to deal with conflicts between our oil and gas clients and city and county governments.
We have also negotiated with numerous real estate developers to resolve conflicts with housing subdivisions. Our oil and gas attorneys regularly draft, review, and negotiate contracts relating to the exploration, production, and development of exploration projects, including preparation of farmout agreements, exploration and development agreements, and joint operating agreements. Our oil and gas and public lands lawyers have extensive experience dealing with federal and state lands including federal exploratory and secondary recovery units and a wide variety of issues dealing with access and development rights. To promote the efficient delivery of legal services, we have assisted our clients in preparing specific forms tailored to a particular region or exploration project that can be used by the land department with minimal additional review by the in-house legal department. These forms include letters of intent, purchase agreements, and oil and gas lease forms.
DGS brings a multidisciplinary approach to all phases of acquisitions, divestitures, and financing in the oil and gas industry. We represent oil and gas companies, major banks and other lending institutions involved in the financing of oil and gas operations and have served as issuer’s and underwriters’ counsel for public offerings of natural resources companies. We have also represented major independent oil companies in public and private mergers and acquisition transactions. We work closely with energy companies to provide tax advantageous structures for oil and gas partnerships, farmout arrangements, and Section 29 transactions.
We also have extensive experience dealing with smaller asset transactions including the drafting, review, and negotiation of purchase and sale agreements and the coordination of all aspects of the due diligence including stand-up title examination.
We also have extensive experience coordinating and participating in all aspects of due diligence in regional and multi-state transactions prior to bidding and during contract due diligence periods. Our due diligence experience includes working with our clients to develop a reasonable due diligence plan that is specific to a particular transaction, preparing checklists and forms for the due diligence team (both lawyers and non-lawyers) to implement the due diligence plan and gather information in a uniform format, and working with clients to modify the due diligence plan if new issues are uncovered. Given the typically short timeframes involved in most due diligence, as appropriate we work with local landmen, environmental consultants, attorneys and others to identify unique local issues and to implement parts of the due diligence plan. However, in those situations we coordinate and monitor the due diligence team throughout the process. We have found that this approach streamlines and expedites the due diligence process.
Our due diligence experience includes title review of county, state land board, federal, and Indian records, environmental review of oil and gas producing properties and associate assets such as pipelines, review of contracts for consents, preferential rights to purchase, or other terms that might have a material adverse impact on the value of the assets, and, in light of on-going litigation around the country, review of marketing arrangements and the accounting to royalty and overriding royalty owners and taxing authorities to identify potential liabilities and impacts to the economic assumptions underlying a proposed transaction. Due diligence is headed up by our oil and gas group partners who have over 24 years of experience each representing the oil and gas industry.
We have a wide variety of experience in handling all aspects of oil and gas transportation, treatment, processing, and sales. We practice before the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission and state public utilities commissions in gas and electric restructuring proceedings and other types of proceedings. We also have nationally recognized expertise in dealing with gas contracting issues.
DGS has great depth of experience dealing with royalty and mineral production tax assessment disputes. Our trial lawyers are defending several class action royalty suits in Colorado and Wyoming. While we have vigorously defended our clients in these royalty and production tax disputes, we have also used our extensive experience dealing with gas marketing issues to extract our clients from this protracted and often expensive litigation. We have assisted a number of our clients in conducting internal audits of their marketing programs and the resulting revenue distributions to royalty owners. We have used this information to structure settlements with plaintiffs’ class counsel in royalty class action cases and with state government in production tax cases.
DGS has also taken a proactive role for a number of our clients by conducting internal audits of the royalty valuation and production tax valuation procedures to determine whether the client is in compliance with current case law in a particular state. We have then advised the client on various strategies for reducing potential liability to royalty owners or state taxing authorities by offering voluntary refunds or structuring a class action settlement.
DGS represents oil and gas companies in connection with their midstream activities involving crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids. We negotiate gathering, processing, transportation, fractionation, exchange, and purchase and sale agreements. We also assist companies in determining whether their facilities are subject to regulation under the Natural Gas Act, Interstate Commerce Act, and state public utility/public service statutes and regulations. We have attorneys with experience in practicing before state public utility/public service commissions who can assist companies in connection with corridor certificates, tariff approvals, rate cases, pipeline safety, and other matters. We can also assist companies in requesting temporary waivers under the Interstate Commerce Act and other FERC-related matters. We have experience in pipeline rights-of-way, including BLM rights-of-way under the Mineral Leasing Act; environmental regulation of pipelines and other oil and gas facilities; due diligence in connection with the acquisition of midstream assets; and mediation, arbitration, and litigation involving contract, environmental, and other disputes.
Cyrus (Skip) Marter has joined Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP as Of Counsel in the firm's Natural Resources Department. His practice will focus primarily on the areas of oil and gas, public lands, litigation, and corporate law. Mr. Marter was previously General Counsel for Buckhorn Energy Services.
On January 25, 2016, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ("COGCC" or "Commission") approved rules for coordinating the work of the COGCC with local jurisdictions when large scale oil and gas facilities are proposed near communities and for facilitating municipal planning. These rules stem from Recommendations No. 17 and 20 of Governor Hickenlooper's Oil and Gas Task Force and will become effective 20 days after they are published in the Colorado Register.
Today, the Department of Interior (DOI)/Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its much-anticipated proposed rule on venting, flaring, and leaking from oil and gas operations on onshore federal and Indian leases, along with a four-page fact sheet. DOI's press release, which discusses the proposal largely in terms of air quality, notes that the rule will "help curb waste of our nation's natural gas supplies, reduce harmful methane emissions and provide a fair return on public resources for federal taxpayers, Tribes, and States." DOI is proposing to update NTL-4A by requiring operators to limit venting and flaring through new technologies, processes, and equipment including storage tanks, adopt leak detection and repair programs, and limit gas losses during liquids unloading. The proposed rule would also prohibit venting, except during emergencies and other limited exceptions–effectively implementing a "no venting" standard. Finally, the rule proposes to clarify when operators owe royalties on flared gas and allow BLM to set royalty rates at or above 12.5 percent of the value of production.
Under the Wyoming Supreme Court's recent ruling in Pennaco Energy, Inc. v. KD Company LLC, 2015 WY 152 (Wyo. 2015), parties assigning agreements pertaining to oil and gas development should be aware that, absent express language in the agreement to the contrary, they could remain responsible in the event of subsequent breaches by their assignees, even when those breaches occur years later.
On December 9, 2015, EPA announced important changes to its environmental audit policy and voluntary disclosure program with the launch of its new eDisclosure portal (eDisclosure Notice) intended to streamline the disclosure process.
Join us for a discussion of oilfield master service agreements (MSAs). Topics will include why MSAs are used and what the benefits are, what happens when an MSA is not in place, typical MSA terms and indemnities, insurance provisions, avoiding insurance coverage gaps, and preventing risk transfer failures.
Part Two: Environmental Self-Audits and Self-Disclosure
Environmental self-audits are an effective tool to detect and correct potential non-compliance with environmental laws. In addition, EPA's Audit Policy and various state environmental audit privilege and immunity laws provide incentives for self-disclosure of non-compliance subject to certain eligibility criteria.
Imagine you are general counsel explaining to your management that the insurance benefits you thought the other party to a corporate transaction had assigned to your company to cover assumed liabilities are not actually available.
Rule Now Effective In All Other States, But Legal Challenges Loom Nationwide
As discussed in a previous DGS alert, on May 27, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued the new Clean Water Rule (Rule) defining the extent of jurisdictional "Waters of the United States" regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, with much fanfare, EPA released pre-publication versions of several proposed rules affecting air quality permitting and regulation of sources in the oil and gas sector. While EPA's promised "methane rules" and proposed Control Technique Guidelines (CTG's) for state emissions control requirements for oil and gas sources may have grabbed the spotlight for being completely new and different among the proposals released, also included was EPA's proposed rule for making Clean Air Act (CAA) source determinations in the onshore oil and gas sector.
When oil prices fell precipitously in the second half of 2014, many predicted that the resulting financial pressures on U.S. E&P companies would force them to rapidly scale back production. To date, the industry has defied these predictions – greater efficiency, high-grading of drilling plans, cost savings, robust capital raising and strong hedging positions have allowed domestic producers to maintain production at or near historically high levels even with rig counts falling significantly.
Part One: EPA Information Request Letters - Practical Tips and Guidance for Responding in Today's Enforcement Climate
Most environmental statutes provide EPA with broad information gathering authority to examine a company's compliance with applicable environmental laws or waste-related practices. One of the ways in which EPA exercises this authority is via the Information Request letter, which may be a prelude to formal enforcement or administrative action.
Please join Davis Graham & Stubbs for a discussion of EPA's and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's recently finalized jurisdictional Waters of the U.S. rule, related Clean Water Act issues, and what it all means for your business. Topics will include a discussion of the new jurisdictional Waters of the U.S. rule, including the new definition of tributary, adjacent waters, significant nexus, and new exclusions among others.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (Commission) recently published an updated Rules 1101 and 1102: Flowline Guidance (Guidance)1 confirming the agency's intent to begin random audits of operators' flowline integrity records in 2016 to determine compliance with applicable Commission flowline regulations for the 2015 calendar-year. These audits will continue indefinitely thereafter.
On May 27, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued a pre-publication final rule defining the jurisdictional "Waters of the United States" regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Unless blocked by some federal legislation or court order, the final rule will go into effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. That effective date will likely be around mid-August.
On June 4, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft study report entitled Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources, which analyzes the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water.
On May 5, 2015, the Treasury Department issued proposed regulations that provide guidance on whether income of a master limited partnership (MLP) related to minerals or natural resources constitutes "qualifying income" for purposes of classifying the MLP as a partnership (and not as a corporation) for tax purposes.
Join us for a half-day discussion of midstream fundamentals. Topics will include scope of FERC jurisdiction over gas, oil, and liquids pipelines; key provisions of gathering, processing...
On March 20, 2015, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its final rules for hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands (Final Rules). The Final Rules govern approximately 700 million subsurface acres overseen by the BLM, and they culminate a rulemaking process that began in November 2010.
It's hard to deny that air quality regulations are one of the most important government initiatives impacting business and industry today. To help understand what the latest and likely future air quality requirements will look like, we have assembled three panels consisting of some of the leading federal and state regulators, as well as several industry and air quality planning experts, to provide their perspectives.
On January 5, 2015, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) amended Rules 522 and 523 governing enforcement and penalties. These amendments implement House Bill 14-1356, which the legislature adopted last April.
After a period of relative stability, volatility in global oil prices has returned with a vengeance in recent weeks. Slow economic growth in many regions, OPEC inaction, and surging U.S. production have combined to cause a precipitous fall in the price of oil, which continues to hit new multiyear lows.
On July 31, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a request for information (RFI) on various changes to the Risk Management Program (RMP) under Section 112(r)(7) of the Clean Air Act, including completely replacing the current RMP rule and its sister regulation, the Process Safety Management (PSM) standard, with a new framework for regulating high-risk industries. The comment period associated with the RFI closed on October 29, 2014. EPA has published over 570 comments submitted by industry members, state and local agencies, public citizens, and non-governmental organizations in response to the RFI. This Client Alert analyzes the bulk of those comments for common themes that illustrate anticipated areas for programmatic revision. It further identifies certain ideological conflicts which must be resolved before any final rule can issue with broad-based support.
In response to Executive Order 13650, entitled "Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security," was issued August 1, 2013 in response to several recent major chemical accidents, including the explosion at the West Fertilizer Facility in West, Texas. The Executive Order required numerous federal agencies to form a Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group (Working Group) to identify how to reduce the incidence of major chemical incidents at chemical facilities. On May 1, 2014, the Working Group issued its report to the President recommending a number of initiatives, including modernizing the RMP and PSM standards by May 1, 2015. EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) both issued RFIs intended to assist in determining whether and how to modernize the RMP and PSM standards. Following-up on publication of the Working Group's report and OSHA's RFI, which signals that OSHA may apply an expanded PSM program to ammonium nitrate, reactive chemicals, and oil and gas drilling, servicing, and production facilities, EPA published its own RFI intended to improve and/or expand its RMP rule.
Join us for a timely discussion on the new Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) enforcement and penalty regulations, which were adopted January 5, 2015. Attendees will receive an overview of the recent regulatory changes, their fiscal implications, and responsive strategies, including voluntary disclosure, negotiating settlements, contesting violations, and using services agreements to reduce risks.
Today, EPA issued its long-awaited new National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) proposal for ground level ozone, the federal health-based standard that states must decide how to meet. The new primary 8-hour ozone NAAQS, which EPA is proposing to set at between 65 and 70 parts per billion (ppb), represents a significant tightening of the standard from the current level of 75 ppb and would put a significant portion of the country in non-attainment. The agency is also taking comment on setting the primary NAAQS as low as 60 ppb, which could drastically expand non-attainment designations even further. The agency has also proposed tightening the secondary ozone standard, which exists to protect “public welfare” (as opposed to public health) values such as soils, water, crops, wildlife, weather, economic values, visibility and climate, and personal well-being.
Today’s proposal marks yet another substantial federal air quality action by EPA in a year that has seen, perhaps, as many significant air quality rules or court decisions as any on record. These include the U.S. Supreme Court’s validation of EPA’s Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSPR), the Court’s ruling on the extent of EPA’s authority to regulate CO2 from stationary sources in the Utility Air Regulatory Group case, EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan focusing on CO2 reductions from coal-fired power plants, the proposed reversal of EPA’s policy on affirmative defenses for startups, shutdowns, and malfunctions; and the Supreme Court’s recent acceptance of certiorari to review the legality of the Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS). Of these, it is perhaps the ozone NAAQS that poses the most serious and important consequences for businesses as well as state regulators, and even the EPA itself. A further lowering of the ozone NAAQS (it was last lowered in 2008) will significantly impact nearly every industrial sector, necessitating, in our view, widespread participation in EPA’s notice and comment process. Comments will be due 90 days after publication of the proposal in the Federal Register; although, given the significance and breadth of the rule’s potential impacts, it is possible the comment deadline will be extended. A final rule is expected by October, 2015.
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP was named among the 2014-2015 “Best Law Firms” by publisher Woodward/White, Inc. in their fifth edition, which published today. U.S. News and Best Lawyers® have joined forces to position more than 11,000 firms in 87 practice areas based in 178 metropolitan areas and eight states. Firms were ranked across three tiers both locally and nationally based on quantitative and qualitative data gathered from peer and client feedback.
Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development Newsletter
Coloradans sometimes ask me about the potential environmental harms of oil and gas development, including fracking. With the current oil boom in Colorado, some assume a corresponding increase in oil spilled. In fact, the opposite is true.
On September 17, 2014, EPA further revised its policy regarding start-up, shut-down, and malfunction (SSM) events, issuing a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPR) that would remove the availability of an affirmative defense for air emission exceedances resulting from malfunction events.
The Department of Transportation (DOT), through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), has recently proposed a series of rules as part of its comprehensive effort to strengthen safety standards for rail transport of crude oil and ethanol, as well as other flammable liquids.
Recent trends in SEC comments issued to oil and gas companies, and an enforcement action against one such company, illustrate current SEC priorities relating to the industry.
We are now at the point in the calendar-year reporting cycle when comments of the SEC staff on annual reports for the prior year, and the current year’s proxy statements, have generally become publicly available.
As discussed in our client alert of June 24, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (UARG) invalidated EPA’s greenhouse-gas (GHG) regulations to the extent those regulations required stationary sources to obtain Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and/or Title V major source permits based solely on the source’s GHG emissions (termed "non-anyway" sources). On July 24, 2014, EPA issued a memorandum to the regional administrators outlining several next steps following the UARG decision.
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Annual Institute
This past Tuesday – June 24, 2014 – the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) issued a press release, explaining that it had ordered High Sierra Water Services to temporarily cease operating a 10,000 barrel-per-day injection well in Weld County. The COGCC described the order as “a precautionary step” that would enable the agency to analyze whether well operations are tied to recent low-level seismic activity nearby.
Yesterday, Justice Scalia, writing for a majority of the United States Supreme Court, invalidated EPA's greenhouse-gas (GHG) regulations to the extent they require stationary sources to obtain a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and/or Title V major source permit based solely on the source's GHG emissions. The Court, however, also validated EPA's extension of "best available control technology" (BACT) requirements to GHG emissions at sources already subject to PSD requirements based on criteria pollutant emissions (so-called "PSD-anyway" sources).
Wyoming Water & Energy Law Conference
Please join us for this seminar discussing the recent trends and legal updates surrounding hydraulic fracturing. Our guest speaker, Mike Paque, Executive Director of the Ground Water Protection Council, will address the recent report from the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, FracFocus 2.0 Task Force.
On May 9, 2014, the U.S. EPA issued a pre-publication copy of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) requesting public comment on regulatory and voluntary mechanisms for obtaining information on chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing (HF) operations.
Please join us for the second of our enforcement seminars on current issues affecting air and water resources. In this session, our speakers will cover air enforcement trends and developments in Colorado and EPA Region 8 as well as wetland issues including enforcement under section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
RMMLF Special Institute on Development Issues in Major Shale Plays - What's on the Horizon?
Gasoline sulfur levels have already been reduced by up to 90 percent as a result of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Tier 2 Gasoline Sulfur Program. On March 3, 2014, EPA issued a pre-publication notice finalizing its newest fuels program (the Tier 3 Program) intended to further reduce gasoline sulfur content, as well as exhaust and evaporative emissions from vehicle engines.
On March 25, 2014, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers issued a pre-publication release of the much-anticipated proposed rule to define the jurisdictional "Waters of the United States" that are regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The proposed rule is aimed at providing clarity and certainty to "jurisdictional water" determinations in the wake of the uncertainty resulting from the 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Rapanos v. U.S.
Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute
Please join us for this seminar that will focus on the IADC Daywork Drilling Contract. This seminar is for in-house attorneys, drilling managers, operations engineers, and risk management personnel who participate in the negotiation of drilling contracts and obtaining liability insurance.
Rocky Mountain Association of Environmental Professionals Meeting
On January 8, 2014, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division published a new policy which provides a roadmap for closing "low-threat" sites where groundwater contamination concentrations exceed Colorado’s groundwater standards.
Golder Associates Oil & Gas Breakfast Series
A recent decision from the Ohio Court of Appeals clarifies that a prohibited assignment of an oil and gas agreement (including an oil and gas lease) containing a "soft consent" may be invalidated in the same manner as if the oil and gas agreement contained a "hard consent."
U.S.-Brazil Unconventional Gas Policy and Regulatory Workshop
3rd U.S.-Brazil Technical Workshop on Unconventional Oil & Gas Development
Please join us for this seminar that will focus on surface owner notice, negotiation, agreement, and dispute issues related to oil and gas operations. Topics will include a discussion of the mineral lessee's rights and responsibilities, an overview of Commission Rules on contacting the surface owner, and how to document your negotiation and discussions. Our speakers will also address what to do when you reach an impasse, when to involve legal counsel, and seeking court intervention, if necessary.
The Air Pollution Control Division has again revised its P.S. Memo 10-02: "Oil & Gas Atmospheric Condensate Storage Tank Batteries System Reporting Guidance" to make several significant changes regarding reportable air emissions under Air Quality Control Commission Regulation No. 7, § XII.
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Federal Oil & Gas Leasing Short Course
The recent devastating floods in Colorado have created significant challenges for a wide variety of companies. In the aftermath, affected businesses must quickly make important decisions related to response activities that may be subject to a variety of regulatory programs, including Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Please join us for this seminar that will focus on recent air emission studies and issues related to oil and gas operations. As concerns over increased oil and gas activity using hydraulic fracturing continue to mount, significant efforts and focus have turned to air emissions - both from oil and gas operations generally, and hydraulic fracturing specifically. In this session, our speakers, who have been and are involved in the forefront of these issues, will present an overview of completed and ongoing studies regarding the impact of airborne emissions associated with oil and gas operations.
AAPG International Conference & Exhibition Regulators Forum
TOPCORP Training Dinner, Colorado School of Mines
Chinese Radio International
At a time when the world population is growing all the time and energy dependency is one of the biggest headaches facing every government, fracking might be a good way to be less reliant on gas and oil imports from the more volatile parts of the world. But what environmental impacts does fracking have on our planet?
The Denver Post
Recent press reports on U.S. Rep. Jared Polis contemplating a lawsuit to halt oil and gas development near his farm illustrate several important points. To begin with, this type of development is creating new opportunities for small businesses, like Sundance Energy, which is drilling the well at issue.
On July 2, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the rule adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission implementing the statutory provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act mandating disclosure by oil and gas and mining companies of payments to certain governments. The regulation required disclosure on a new Form SD for fiscal years ending after September 30, 2013. The matter was remanded back to the SEC to draft a new rule more consistent with the statutory intent.
Please join us for the second session of a two-part series on Hydraulic Fracturing Water Resources and Management. Water, as a critical component in oil and gas development, can at times become a limiting factor that can impact production and new development.
In this session, our speakers will discuss the legal, regulatory, and practical aspects of acquiring water supplies for oil and gas operations in Colorado.
APPEA Conference & Exhibition
American Association of Professional Landmen Pooling Seminar
Rocky Mountain Landman
Oil and gas development is occurring in close proximity to residential development with increasing frequency, which means more headaches for landmen and title attorneys alike. A mortgage generally covers all of the mortgagor’s interest in the mortgaged property. Thus, if the mortgagor owns any mineral interest in the mortgaged property, the mortgage generally covers such mineral interest, unless the mortgage expressly provides otherwise.
viEUws - The EU Policy Broadcaster
Leading environment journalist, Sonja van Renssen, is joined by David Neslin, former director of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (the government agency that regulates all oil and gas development in the state of Colorado), to discuss Shale Gas Development.
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation: International Mining and Oil & Gas
Milam ‘Randy’ Pharo has joined DGS as Of Counsel in the firm’s Natural Resources Department. His practice will focus primarily on the areas of oil and gas, public lands, and corporate law. Mr. Pharo was previously Senior Vice President and General Counsel at SM Energy Company and Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary of Magellan Petroleum Corporation.
At the February 28, 2013 Stakeholder Meeting, the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division (Division) revealed a suite of revisions it is considering to Air Quality Control Commission Regulation No. 7, in the form of significant new and expanded control options for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), and other hydrocarbon emissions from oil and gas facilities. The Division anticipates a formal rulemaking process to begin in November, 2013.
On February 22, 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a sweeping proposal regarding the treatment of excess emissions in state rules from sources during periods of startup, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM). The proposal responds to a petition for rulemaking filed in 2011 by the Sierra Club, and promises to fundamentally alter the way most states, including Colorado and North Dakota, treat SSM events in their State Implementation Plans (SIP). Comments on EPA’s proposal are currently due March 25, 2013.
Texas Wesleyan Law Review
During the past year, a number of important judicial decisions and regulatory actions concerning oil and gas development occurred in Colorado. These decisions and actions should be of interest to all persons who are involved in Colorado oil and gas activity.
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute: Air Quality Issues Affecting Oil, Gas, and Mining Development in the West
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute: Air Quality Issues Affecting Oil, Gas, and Mining Development in the West
Boulder County Bar Association
On Monday, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) gave final approval to new rules which expand the setbacks for oil and gas wells and production facilities and impose new notice, meeting, and mitigation requirements to better protect nearby homes and neighborhoods. The COGCC touts the new rules as "the strongest rules in the country for limiting the impact of drilling near residences and other occupied buildings." These rules will go into effect on August 1, 2013.
What do bikes and hydraulic fracturing have in common? Prior to this week, the answer was probably very little. On February 4, 2013, however, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously issued an opinion striking down the City of Black Hawk’s ban prohibiting bicycle traffic on certain local streets.
ASFE Fall Conference
U.S. – Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission Energy Working Group Round Table - Energy Law in XXI: Views from the U.S. and Russia
DGS associate Lamont Larsen will be speaking at the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (RMMLF) Special Institute on Horizontal Oil & Gas Development. The Institute, being held November 8-9 in Westminster, Colorado, will explore the legal and technical challenges facing the oil and gas industry as horizontal development in shale and other similar plays expands and challenges the technological and legal frontiers.
Fourth Quarter 2012 Rocky Mountain Environmental, Health and Safety Peer Group Meeting
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has embarked on a significant new rulemaking that promises to have big impacts on oil and gas operations in Colorado. On September 21, 2012, the COGCC rolled out a conceptual outline of potential amendments to the existing COGCC setback rules, and on October 1, the Commission gave the go ahead to begin a rulemaking to amend the setback rules. Proposed rules were published October 15.
This two-part Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP breakfast briefing series in September and October will focus on the cutting edge of environmental controversy surrounding shale development for oil and gas production, addressing a number of significant developments in the courts and across the country regarding air quality impacts from shale development involving hydrofracturing or "fracking."
ERM Seminar: New Air Rules - Who Needs to Comply and When?
International Senior Lawyers Project
MIT Enterprise Forum of Texas Flagship Program
Denver Association of Division Order Analysts
RMMLF: The Water-Energy Nexus Institute
RMMLF Special Institute on The Water-Energy Nexus: Acquisition, Use and disposal of Water for Energy and Mineral Development
Many experts agree that new supplies of natural gas and oil from shale and other unconventional formations have the potential to decrease our energy costs, increase our employment, enhance our national security, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
Unconventional Gas Workshop - Kiev, Ukraine
Forty-five DGS attorneys were named Best Lawyers® by publisher Woodward/White, Inc. in its annual guide recognizing legal excellence.
In a 2-1 opinion issued August 7, 2012, in the case of Summit Petroleum Corp v. EPA, No. 10-4572, slip op. (6th Cir. Aug. 7, 2012), the Sixth Circuit appears to have struck a substantial blow to the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency's ("EPA" or "the Agency") approach to single source aggregation under the Clean Air Act ("CAA").
The Daily Sentinel
Colorado is at the forefront of domestic natural gas development and, according to a recent study by IHS Global Insight, the state will benefit from this development with substantial and sustained job growth. In Colorado, development of unconventional natural gas – including shale, tight sands and coalbed methane – is projected to support more than 126,000 jobs by 2015.
Yesterday, the Colorado Supreme Court decided Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission v. Grand Valley Citizens' Alliance, No. 10SC532 (Colo. June 25, 2012), which involves the public's right to a hearing before the Commission. In a 6 to 1 decision, the Supreme Court held that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act requires the Commission to hold a hearing in response to a public request only for rules, regulations, or orders. Other hearing requests by the public are governed by the Commission's regulations, which do not entitle the public to hearings on applications for permits to drill (APDs).
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP partner Connie Rogers and associate Sam Niebrugge will be speaking at the 58th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute on July 19-21 in Newport Beach, California. The Institute is organized by the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (RMMLF), a collaborative educational non-profit organization dedicated to the scholarly and practical study of the law and regulations relating to mining, oil and gas, water, public lands, land use, conservation, environmental protection, and other related areas.
Denver Business Journal
I recently spoke at a shale gas conference in Kiev, Ukraine, about Colorado's experience producing the energy that we need while protecting the environment that we treasure.
Craig Gleaton has joined the Natural Resources Department of Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP as an associate. He focuses his practice on oil and gas transactional matters and the preparation of title opinions covering fee, state, and federal lands. Mr. Gleaton has experience with the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and also has negotiated purchase and sale, joint operating, farmout, and various other agreements. He is licensed to practice law in Colorado, North Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.
CLE International - Hydraulic Fracturing: The Debate Continues
3rd Law of Shale Plays Conference
On the same day that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its proposed rules governing hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and Indian land (read the DGS Alert), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft of its long-awaited “Permitting Guidance for Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing Activities Using Diesel Fuels.” The guidance is intended to aid in the permitting of oil and gas hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuels under the Safe Drinking Water Act’s (SDWA) Underground Injection Control Program (UIC) where EPA is the permitting authority – including, importantly, in Pennsylvania and New York. The guidance, however, suggests that it also would prove useful to state UIC permit writers. It also notes that some states may seek to revise their current UIC program to follow the guidance.
Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its much anticipated proposed rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public and Indian land. The rule, which has been delayed for the past several months as the Bureau conducted tribal consultations and made last minute changes, imposes three major categories of new requirements on hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells on public and Indian land: (1) disclosure requirements; (2) standards related to well-bore integrity; and (3) obligations related to flowback and other water management plans.
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP partner David Neslin will speak at a two-day regional workshop on shale gas exploration and extraction presented by the Civilian Research & Development Foundation (CRDF). The workshop, taking place in Kiev, Ukraine on May 24-25, 2012, will help identify key issues to address as the region looks to encourage production on unconventional gas and set a road map for addressing them.
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP partners David Neslin and Gail L. Wurtzler will be speaking at the Colorado Hazardous Waste Management Society (CHWMS) Workshop on Tuesday, April 10, 2012, which will be held at Geotech Environmental in Denver, Colorado. DGS associate Radcliffe Dann IV is on the planning committee for the half‐day event, which will feature an overview and discussion of important issues and developments with respect to hydraulic fracturing. The agenda will focus on baseline sampling programs, regulatory and litigation updates, and current governmental studies related to the impacts of hydraulic fracturing.
The Denver Post
The current dialogue about hydraulic fracturing is healthy because we should all understand how we obtain the energy we use. In Colorado, much of this energy currently comes from natural gas and oil. Natural gas heats about three out of every four homes and generates about one-fourth of our electricity. Oil fuels most of the 5 million motor vehicles that we own or lease and the 46 billion vehicle miles annually driven on Colorado roads.
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP partner David Neslin will be speaking at the National Journal policy summit entitled “Unleashing Potential: Finding the Best Regulatory Environment to Boost Responsible Natural Gas Production.” The event, underwritten by the American Chemistry Council, will be held in the Knight Broadcast Studio at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on March 20, 2012, starting at 8:30 a.m.
Regional Energy Conference: Vilnius, Lithuanaia
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP today announced the expansion of its oil and gas and public lands practices with the addition of David S. Neslin as a partner effective March 1, 2012. Dave is currently the Director of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, the state agency that regulates oil and gas development in Colorado. The addition of Dave Neslin continues the firm’s expansion of its team serving energy industry clients and brings to DGS a national figure in energy development.
Natural Resources Law Center – Hot Topics Program
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP Partner John R. Jacus will be co-speaking at the Environmental Impact of Oil and Gas Production, which is presented by the Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and Texas Tech University School of Law, on January 13th at the Omni Houston Hotel in Houston, Texas.
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Federal Oil & Gas Leasing Short Course
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP Partners Gregory R. Danielson, Andrew M. Low and Lester R. Woodward were named Denver “Lawyers of the Year” by the publisher of Best Lawyers®. Mr. Danielson was recognized in the field of oil and gas law, Mr. Low in appellate practice, and Mr. Woodward in mutual funds law.
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP Partner Scot W. Anderson will be speaking at the 29th Annual Advanced Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Law Course, which is presented by the State Bar of Texas, on October 6-7 th at the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston, Texas.
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP Partner Scot W. Anderson will be speaking at the 29th Annual Advanced Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Law Course, which is presented by the State Bar of Texas, on October 6-7th at the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston, Texas. Mr. Anderson’s discussion will focus on “A Right and Duty: Legal Considerations for Foreign Investments in U.S. Energy Projects.” To see more event related information, click here.
Rocky Mtn. Min. L. Found. J., Vol. 48, No. 1
The Rocky Mountain Landman
On September 24, 2010, the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners (the “Board”) released its proposed revision to the oil and gas lease form for Colorado state lands. The Board subsequently accepted written comments regarding the proposed changes and is expected to consider the adoption of the new form at its meeting on December 3, 2010. The proposed changes to the lease form are substantial, and if adopted, may have a significant impact on future operations on Colorado state lands. Following is a brief summary of some of the proposed
Denver Association of Petroleum Landmen's Fall Land Institute
The concept of drilling a horizontal well has been around the oil patch for longer than might be suspected. According to some reports, the first true horizontal well was drilled near Texon, Texas in 1929. However, it was not until the 1980’s that the technology behind horizontal drilling really began to develop. At first, domestic horizontal drilling was primarily limited to the oil fields producing from the Austin Chalk Formation in south central Texas. This limestone oil-bearing formation is highly permeable and contains extensive naturally-occurring vertical fractures that facilitate the flow of oil into the wellbore. A conventional vertical well would at best intersect one of these vertical fractures. Operators soon realized that drilling a horizontal well would ensure that multiple fractures would be intersected, resulting in an exponential increase in oil production. By the early 1990’s, operators drilling to the Austin Chalk Formation began to experience initial production rates of over a 1,000 barrels a day from horizontal wells.
The inaugural, 2010 edition of the U.S. News - Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” Guide ranks Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP as a national leader in mining law and mutual funds law – and honors the LoDo-based firm with first-tier regional rankings in energy, natural resources, commercial litigation and several corporate law areas, including tax, securities, private equity and M&A. U.S. News & World Report published the results yesterday. The survey included responses from 9,514 corporate executives, in-house lawyers, marketing officers or private practice attorneys.
The newly announced, 2011 edition of the Best Lawyers in America ranks Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP first in Colorado-based law practices for corporate governance and compliance law, environmental law, mergers and acquisitions law, natural resources law, oil and gas law and securities law. This year Best Lawyers recognizes 36 DGS attorneys, including 13 who have been named to the list for at least 10 years. Nearly half (46 percent) of DGS partners are recognized in the definitive guide to legal excellence, in addition to several attorneys of counsel to the firm. Best Lawyers is a peer-review survey of more than 39,000 in-house counsels and private practice attorneys.
Limited Guidance Offered in Applying New Colorado Oil & Gas Rules on Federal Lands
New and Revised General Construction Permits for E&P Condensate and Produced Water Tanks
On August 31, 2009, the Colorado Office of the State Engineer (SEO) issued proposed Rules and Regulations for the Determination of the Nontributary Nature of Ground Water Produced through Wells in Conjunction with the Mining of Minerals (Proposed Rules).
Representing a significant victory for oil and gas producers, on July 9 the North Dakota Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Bice v. Petro-Hunt, LLC1, upholding the deduction of post-production costs based on "at the well" royalty clause language in the oil and gas leases at issue.
On May 21, Andrea Wang spoke at the Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies’ Education Day on Inapplicability of Colorado Sales Tax to Well Fracturing Services and Separators – How to Preserve your Rights.
The credit crisis and low commodities prices have combined to create a difficult financing environment for many companies in the oil and gas business, and have caused a significant slowdown in acquisition activity. Current conditions, however, also present opportunities for financing, acquisition and development transactions that will allow companies to position themselves for future success.
On April 24, 2009, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Water Quality Control Division (“WQCD”) published a public notice for a new general permit for discharges from produced water treatment facilities associated with oil and gas exploration and production activities.
On December 10, 2008, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ("Commission") completed a formal rulemaking process begun in March 2008. After hearing public testimony in Grand Junction and Denver, completing twelve days of party hearings and eleven days of deliberations, the Commission approved comprehensive revisions impacting, in varying degrees, virtually every series of the Commission's rules governing oil and gas operations in Colorado.
Exploration & Production: The Oil and Gas Review
After a period of relative calm, the oil and gas industry has been hit by a new wave of action by host countries, imperiling resource development. These actions fall under the broad category of ‘political risk,’ which includes expropriation, currency instability and political violence.
In its 2007 legislative Session, the Colorado General Assembly enacted House Bill 1341, legislation substantially changing the composition of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and charging the Commission to include consideration of environmental, wildlife and public health impacts associated with its decisions.
Davis Graham & Stubbs partners Laura Riese, John Jacus and John Elofson will be panelists for a national oil and gas industry roundtable in Houston on April 26-27. The conference, “Measuring Return on Environment” will be presented by MetaVu, a business consulting firm in Denver.
Davis Graham & Stubbs partners Scot Anderson and Deborah Friedman will be lead participants for the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation’s institute on International Mining and Oil & Gas Law, Development, and Investment on April 16-18 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Judy Matlock, a partner in the energy group at Davis Graham & Stubbs, is a featured speaker and program planner for the Special Institute on Federal and Indian Oil & Gas Royalty Valuation and Management in Houston, February 28-March 2, 2007.
ABA Environmental Enforcement and Crimes Committee Newsletter
Davis Graham & Stubbs is offering a complimentary breakfast briefing for oil and gas producers on Tuesday, September 26, 8:00- 9:15 a.m. in their offices. The seminar, “Issues in Gas Marketing: Obligations in Marketing a Non-Operator’s Production,” will explore gas marketing issues arising under Joint Operating Agreements. The session will be discussing the complications that arise when a nonoperator’s production is not taken in kind and the operator assumes marketing responsibility. Davis Graham energy partner Judy Matlock will be the featured speaker for the briefing, offering practical suggestions for operators and outlining risks and obligations.
Twenty-six Davis Graham & Stubbs attorneys practicing in 28 fields will be recognized in the 2007 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. The number of DGS lawyers recognized in the definitive guide to legal excellence increased by five this year, and represents more than 40% of DGS partners overall. DGS ranks first in the number of Colorado-based attorneys listed by the 2007 edition of Best Lawyers in the Commercial Litigation, Natural Resources, Environmental Law, Securities Law and Corporate Governance and Compliance Law practice areas.
Davis Graham & Stubbs lawyers Deborah Friedman and Tom McNamara were recently recognized by Who’s Who Legal as among the leading lawyers worldwide in their respective fields. Ms. Friedman was named in The International Who’s Who of Mining Lawyers 2006, and Mr. McNamara was selected for The International Who’s Who of Commercial Litigators 2006.
Thirteen lawyers at Davis Graham & Stubbs law firm have been named Super Lawyers by their peers in Colorado. Law & Politics magazine polled active Colorado lawyers for nominations to identify the best attorneys in more than 55 practice areas based on peer recognition and professional achievement. Super Lawyers involves an attorney-led research process for a diverse listing of the top lawyers from private practice, in-house counsel and the public sector in different geographic locations. Only 5 percent of the lawyers in each region are listed in Colorado Super Lawyers, co-published by Law & Politics and 5280 magazine.
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute
The electric power industry is being restructured to give consumers access to competitively priced power. While transmission and distribution of electric power remain a natural monopoly, sufficient competition among the generation sector has developed. Accordingly, on March 4, 1997, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued Order No. 8881 to restructure the wholesale power market to enable wholesale customers to realize the benefits of such competition.
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute
The tools by which land management agencies regulate oil and gas activities on federal lands are long-standing. Oil and gas leases issued immediately after enactment of the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA) in 1920 contained stipulations that restricted oil and gas activities on leased lands. The first set of federal oil and gas regulations, promulgated within months after MLA enactment, established an "Application for Permit to Drill" (APD) procedure that required lessees to notify the federal government before they could drill wells on leased lands. And by the summer of 1920, lessees were obligated, through a process much like that of present day "sundry notices," to notify the federal government before they could undertake a variety of oil and gas activities on their leases.
On February 24, 2005, Governor Freudenthal signed Enrolled Act 45 (Original Senate File 60),Wyoming’s new “split estates”act. It will be codified at Wyo. Stat. §§ 30-5-401 through 30-5-410. The Act becomes effective on July 1, 2005. However, it will not apply to surface use agreements, consents, regulatory approvals and judicial orders in effect prior to July 1, 2005.
The MMS has approved a final rule amending the valuation for royalty purposes of gas produced from federal leases. The rule primarily affects the calculation of transportation deductions and will be effective June 1, 2005. See 70 Fed. Reg. 11870 (March 10, 2005).
On February 24, 2005,Governor Freudenthal signed Enrolled Act 45 (Original Senate File 60),Wyoming’s new “split estates”act. It will be codified at Wyo. Stat. §§ 30-5-401 through 30-5-410. The Act becomes effective on July 1, 2005. However, it will not apply to surface use agreements, consents, regulatory approvals and judicial orders in effect prior to July 1, 2005.
Landman: Signature Publication of AAPL
Presented to the Natural Resources & Energy Section of the Colorado Bar Association
Wall Street Lawyer
On April 15, 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued proposed rules “designed to protect investors by deterring fraud and abuse in our securities markets through the use of shell companies.”1
Proceedings for the Fifty-Fifth Annual Institture on Oil and Gas Law
There are approximately 2.5 billion surface acres in the United States.1 The surface of the United States is owned by individuals, companies, cities, counties, states, Native American tribes, and the United States itself.
Safety is an integral part of oil field operations. However, most companies rarely experience an actual investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") or equivalent state agencies. This is due to a number of factors, including (1) the absence of industry-specific OSHA regulations; (2) the geographically broad nature of exploration and production ("E&P") activities; and (3) OSHA's recent practice of handling most complaints through notice letters.
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute
Executive agencies routinely provide direction to the regulated community concerning how that community should act. This direction sometimes come in the form of published rules promulgated through notice and comment rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Agencies also provide further guidance to regulated parties through means far less formal than APA rulemaking. Employees of the agencies answer questions over the telephone. Agencies may issue handbooks to its employees designed to guide them in the application of the agency’s regulations. Agencies issue opinion letters and policy statements. Agencies sometimes issue guidance documents that are far more detailed than the original published regulations.
46 Rocky Mt. Min. L. Inst. (2000)
IFR Financing Power Projects in Europe
For an Ideal Gas, the absolute pressure (P) of the Ideal Gas multiplied by its volume (V) is equal to the number of moles of the Ideal Gas (n) multiplied by the absolute temperature of the Ideal Gas (T) and a constant (R). The Ideal Gas Law, then, is PV= nRT.
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation's Rights-of-Way How Right is Your Right-of-Way?
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation's Mineral Title Examination III