In a decision issued March 24, 2021, all seven of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court justices agreed (in a split decision) that Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) can be enforced only against sellers. In so concluding, the six-justice majority then determined that oil and gas companies are not “sellers” under the UTPCPL when they acquire oil and gas leases from property owners. Continue Reading Pennsylvania’s UTPCPL does not apply to acquiring oil and gas leases from property owner

Winter Storm Uri left millions in Texas without electricity and water in mid-February 2021, opening up threats of mass litigation.  Texans seek to hold the state’s primary grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and electricity retailers liable. Among the litigation is a $100 million suit brought by family members of an 11-year-old boy and 95-year-old man who both froze to death during the storm. Additionally, a class action suit against ERCOT alleging gross negligence has been filed in Harris County, Texas. More litigation is likely forthcoming as experts predict an avalanche of insurance claims. But should potential Texan defendants be shaking in their cowboy boots? Generally, no, as the current state of the law shows potential defendants may be protected from mass litigation.

Continue Reading Texas power outages threaten mass litigation: Should potential defendants be shaking in their cowboy boots?

Recent decisions issued by the Ohio Supreme Court have provided reminders that there are meaningful limits to the jurisdiction and powers of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and other state agencies. Those challenging the final orders and decisions of Ohio’s various state commissions and agencies often find themselves facing a steep uphill climb. In addition to demonstrating prejudicial error, such challengers face entrenched doctrines of judicial deference to agency decision-making.

Continue Reading Ohio Supreme Court wraps up 2020 by repeatedly reminding state agencies to stay in their statutory lanes

Porter Wright has provided advice and industry insight to our energy clients and to the broader community for decades. In order to accurately reflect the scope of our experience and capabilities, and to continue to provide the latest energy-related updates and information in an easily accessible way, we have expanded and relaunched our Oil & Gas Law Report blog as the Energy Law Report.

Continue Reading From the editors: New name and expanded focus

The Ohio Supreme Court has finally put to rest a long-standing debate about whether Ohio’s Marketable Title Act (MTA), Dormant Mineral Act (DMA), or both, may be applied to reunite severed mineral interests with the overlying surface estate. In a majority opinion decided Dec. 2, 2020, the court held that both acts may be independently applied to mineral estates. The court held, “The Marketable Title Act and the Dormant Mineral Act afford independent procedures, either of which may be used to effect the termination of a severed mineral interest, depending on the circumstances of the case and the time that has elapsed.” West v. Bode, 2020-Ohio-5473, ¶ 44.

Continue Reading Ohio Supreme Court holds that the Marketable Title Act and the Dormant Mineral Act both apply to severed oil and gas interests

Ohio landowners and holders of mineral interests should soon receive clarification regarding certain mineral rights. On Sept. 1, 2020, the Supreme Court of Ohio accepted Fonzi v. Brown for review, a case involving the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (ODMA). Fonzi joins Gerrity v. Chervenak and West v. Bode, as the third major case on the court’s docket that raises questions about the ODMA and/or Marketable Title Act (MTA).

Continue Reading Supreme Court of Ohio to decide three cases regarding subsurface rights

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Oil & Gas Resources Management (DOGRM) recently revised its rules governing spacing of horizontal oil and gas production wells. The new rules, which became effective on Oct. 10, 2019, will bring Ohio’s horizontal well spacing regulations in line with what accepted science and drilling data indicates is a more efficient and productive spacing for horizontal wells in Ohio.

Under the prior version of Ohio Administrative Code §1501:9-1-04, which applied to both conventional and horizontal wells, any oil and gas production well drilled into a pool located at least 4,000 feet in depth must be set back at least 500 feet from the boundary of the leased tract or drilling unit. That prior version of the rule also required a spacing of at least 1,000 feet between wells producing from the same pool. Continue Reading New Ohio regulations reduce minimum spacing requirements for horizontal oil and gas wells

The Ohio Supreme Court recently settled an open question under Ohio’s Marketable Title Act (MTA), determining that a reference to the type of interest created and to whom it was granted is all that is necessary under the MTA to preserve the interest. And interestingly, despite the existence of the Dormant Mineral Act (DMA), the Supreme Court applied the MTA to an oil and gas interest.

In Blackstone v. Moore, landowners filed a lawsuit against the owners of an oil and gas royalty interest underlying the landowners’ property, seeking to extinguish the interest under the MTA (Because the appellees (Kuhn heirs) had filed an affidavit to preserve their mineral interest within sixty days of receiving the Blackstones’ notice of intent to declare the mineral interest abandoned, there was no question that they had preserved their interests under the DMA). Created in 1915, the oil and gas royalty interest arose prior to the “root of title” (the last recorded title transaction before the preceding 40 years from when marketability is being determined) and therefore was subject to extinguishment under the MTA.

Continue Reading Reference to oil & gas royalty interest deemed sufficient under the Marketable Title Act

On Dec.19, 2018, Gov. John Kasich signed SB 263 into law, which amends ORC 4735 to exempt oil and gas land professionals (landmen) from the licensure requirements imposed on real estate agents and brokers. The revisions to sections 4735.01 and 4735.023 introduce the concept of an “oil and gas land professional” (new ORC 4735.01(GG)), and exempts landmen from the definition of “real estate broker,” “real estate salesperson,” “foreign real estate dealer” and “foreign real estate salesperson” through new ORC 4735.01(I)(1)(h) and (i).

SB 263 also introduces a new section 4735.023, requiring ongoing registration requirements for landmen, an annual fee, an obligation for landmen to maintain membership in a national oil and gas land professional group (such as the American Association of Professional Landmen, or AAPL), and specific disclosure requirements to landowners.

The new law will take effect in 90 days, and is a direct response to the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in Dundics et al. v. Eric Petroleum Corp., 2018-Ohio-286, where the Court held that landmen who negotiate oil and gas leases must be licensed as real estate agents and otherwise comply with the requirements of ORC 4735.  As a result, SB 263 now provides a welcome distinction between landmen and real estate agents, and imposes more appropriate requirements and obligations for oil and gas landmen.