Oil & Gas Law
Relentless Representation You Can Count On
Our focus is to stand for individuals and businesses wronged by big oil and gas producing companies. Whether you are a surface or mineral right owner, someone injured, or a small service company who is expected buckle under to an industry giant’s breach of contract, we are here to serve you. As Texas trial lawyers and former insurance defense attorneys, we understand the challenges individuals and small businesses face when opposing uncaring industry giants or their insurance companies.
When it comes to defending your rights, however, you can count on an attorney from our firm to act tenaciously, relentlessly and thoroughly, leaving no stone unturned on your behalf. By approaching every case as if it is going to trial, we have created a proven track record of success for our clients. Take time to find out about the Amaro Law Firm’s ability to provide you with high quality legal representation in any oil and gas transaction, negotiation or dispute.
Tragically, the April 2010 oil spill caused serious and adverse health problems for tens of thousands of oil workers. In March of 2012, BP made an agreement to place $7.8 billion dollars under court supervision that was to go towards compensating injured claimants. Since the Gulf Coast Claims Facility is being shut down, it will be necessary to seek legal representation to file a claim.
Subsurface Oil and Gas Leases
Under Texas law, land ownership includes two distinct sets of rights or “estates,” the surface estate and the mineral or subsurface estate. A company can lease the mineral estate from the owner and is referred to as the “lessee.” Lessee’s have broad rights to use of the surface for the purpose of exploring for and producing oil and gas. Our firm understands these laws and your legal rights.
Surface Use Agreements
The general rules regarding free use of the surface to benefit the mineral estate or subsurface estate may be changed by the specific terms of the mineral lease covering the property or by the deed that severed the mineral estate from the surface estate. Laws exist about the surface and mineral estate owners’ rights and obligations, use restrictions and limitations.
Oil and Gas Pipeline Leases
Negotiating oil and gas pipelines across a surface owner’s property should benefit both parties. These are easements and each configuration of land and access presents is own problems. It is important to seek a knowledgeable oil and gas law attorney, who will listen to your concerns and attend to your best interests.
Subsurface trespassing is a common issue in oil and gas disputes which can lead to litigation. A surface owner may want to avoid a potential surface use dispute with a lessee. When you need a skilled negotiator or have an oil and gas litigation concern, our firm is ready to help.
Royalty interests are as old as oil and gas exploration and are essentially rental payments or compensation paid as a percentage of production by oil and gas producers to property owners who are the beneficiaries. Royalty beneficiaries my lose oil and gas royalties when mineral rights are severed from the surface rights. Protect your rights.
Breach of Contract
An oil and gas lease is a contract that conveys rights to a company for extraction and marketing oil and gas. In addition to the terms of a lease, an oil and gas company may also have implied duties under law and if a company violates the terms of the lease, or fails to fulfill other duties, the company may be in breach of contract.
Oil and Gas Easements
An easement gives the right to use or control the land or an area above or below the land for a specific purpose. Texas courts have passed legislation and codified the rights and obligations of a mineral owner or lessee regarding its rights and use of the surface of lands.
Easement to Transport Gas
An owner may grant a property interest in the surface land to a company for transporting natural gas. Agreements that affect both the easement holder, the person who will use the property, and the owner of the property should be equitable for both parties.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a technique that injects chemicals and water into rock formations to release formerly untappable sources of natural gas. The dangers of fracking include concerns for health, safety and the environment, and have prompted the Texas Fracking Disclosure Laws. One well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater. These salt water ponds can be laden with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens such as benzene, and radioactive elements such as radium.
In order to protect human health and the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) writes and enforces regulations based on laws passed by Congress. Recently the agency proposed rules to cut pollution created from oil and gas exploration and production, including the first U.S. air standards for drilling using hydraulic fracturing.
Reports show that natural gas exploration and development can lower land and property values, making resale difficult, and leave farmers “stuck” with contaminated land that cannot be farmed and ranchers in danger of losing livestock. If you are concerned about a gas lease on your land, we may be able to help.
Drinking water contamination related to fracking is a growing health concern in the U.S. With the use of more advanced hydraulic fracturing techniques, increased reports of contamination have led to intense scrutiny and increased regulation of the practice. It is important to know the dangers and your rights regarding this issue.
Drilling and Operating Agreements
As the technology for accessing oil and gas reserves has advanced, new understanding and skill is vital in negotiating oil and gas exploration and recovery agreements. In addition, the experience of an oil and gas attorney can help resolve conflicts between parties to these agreements.
Drill Stem Testing Fraud
Drill stem testing (DST) is the procedure for isolating and testing a geological formation to establish a well’s potential for commercial production. Well testing is recognized as one of the most hazardous operations to undertake, and, therefore, open to shortcuts or fraudulent practices on the part of involved parties.
Lateral drilling is traditional directional or slant drilling and is the process used to curve a well in order to reach a target not directly beneath the drill site. It has been used in the past to reach reservoirs that exist under shallow lakes, protected areas, railroads or any other area on which rig cannot be set up. When you have been affected by this type of directional drilling, let us help.
Traditional directional drilling differs from modern horizontal drilling in that it can make a 90-degree turn in only a few feet. This advance in drilling technology has enabled production from otherwise inaccessible energy reservoirs. Reaching our nation’s natural resources can affect economic stability, health and the environment.
Shale is fine-grained sedimentary rock that can be a rich source of petroleum and natural gas. Bakken formation drilling began in 2007 and produced nearly a half million barrels of oil a day in 2010. Other shale gas prospects are the Barnett Shale and the Haynesville Shale. The Eagle Ford Shale is an oil-rich deep shale formation. Laws regulating deep shale exploration and recovery have changed along with the technology to accomplish it.
Explosions and Fires
The negligent or unintentional introduction of an ignition source (such as a match, lighter, cigarette or static electricity) near tank hatches or vents on an oil and gas exploration site can trigger an internal tank explosion, killing or injuring people nearby. Let us help when you or a loved one has been injured.
Hazardous Waste and Pollution Issues
With high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking, a well can produce a million gallons of highly toxic wastewater. EPA and drilling industry studies conclude that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and waterways and at this time there is no sure method of disposing or treating it to make it safe for human use.
Improper Road Maintenance
Poor upkeep of access roads in and out of oil and gas well sites, can present health hazards to workers, service companies, surface owners, in fact, anyone who steps on the property. Further, it can devaluate surface land value. There may be legal steps to protect yourself when adversely affected by sloppy road maintenance.
Excessive Road Construction
Surface owners’ rights can be violated with too many roads across their land, certainly property value is likely to decrease. There are surface operating standards set by several U.S. regulatory agencies. It is important to protect your interests.
Noise analysis and control for the oil and gas industry is a vital part of any drill project. You may want to consult us when you have questions or have experienced drilling rig noise control violations.
Mining and Reclamation
Several U.S. and state agencies are mandated to protect safety, health and the environment through mine reclamation. With modern mining practices, creating useful landscapes from mined land is a challenge, in some cases impossible. When you have concerns or have been harmed by negligent mining of oil and gas or by insufficient or non-existent reclamation projects, it is important to know your rights.
There are growing concerns over high levels of chemical toxins in the flowback water after modern hydraulic fracking. Further, current fracking methods may cause flowback water to become radioactive. Currently there are no specific regulations to deal with this naturally occurring radioactive material, and states rely on companies to manage it. If you have questions or concerns, we can help.