Monday, March 25, 2013

Shale Could Grow To Become A $1 Billion Industry In West Virginia

If natural gas demand continues to grow as predicted, shale production could be a billion dollar industry in West Virginia in a couple decades.  That was the upbeat message delivered recently by Chris Guith, the Vice President for Policy at the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He was the guest speaker at the 2013 Marcellus2Manufacturing Conference at the Charleston Civic Center. Shale production is becoming a bigger and bigger part of West Virginia's economy and it looks like that's going to continue for years to come. "It's transformational. It has changed the entire landscape both from an economic stand point, from an energy stand point and, frankly, a geo-political stand point,” Guith said. Click to read more.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lewis Glasser Opens Law Office In Ohio To Meet Growth

Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC has expanded and opened an office in the state of Ohio.  The office is located on the northeast side of Columbus, 81 Mill Street, Suite 300, Gahanna, Ohio, and it is needed to serve the firm’s significant client growth in the Buckeye State.  “Lewis Glasser is very pleased to be expanding and opening this new office in Ohio, which will allow our law firm to better serve our new clients, particularly those engaged in the state’s booming shale production industry,” said G. Nick Casey, LGCR’s Managing Member.  He noted that Lewis Glasser is nationally recognized as one of the leading law firms in the Utica/Marcellus region. “Our law firm has a long history of representing the oil and natural gas industry – producers, midstream companies and interstate pipelines – and we pride ourselves on our high-quality, personal and results-oriented services.”

The opening of the Ohio office also follows the law firm’s recent hiring of attorney Paul Garinger, who has experience providing a variety of legal services and has litigated on a number of areas pertinent to Ohio oil and natural gas industry: title, lease, permitting, pipeline work and environmental matters. He also represented a multinational oil and natural gas company in a large-scale federally regulated pipeline project across the State of Ohio and aided financial institutions in consumer banking disputes under federal and state regulations

Garinger’s legal career also has included representing employers before state and federal courts and state and federal administrative agencies such as the Ohio Department of Labor, Ohio Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Ohio Civil Rights Commission. 

To contact Garinger, email him at pgaringer@lgcr.com or call (614) 416-8148.

Ohio's Shale Production Region May Extend Westward

Ohio's oil-rich shale deposits may exist further west in Ohio than previously thought, according to information provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  In a recent article published by The Associated Press, revised maps from the department indicate that the counties between Mansfield and Lima show promising results.  Those counties are Hancock, Hardin, Seneca and Wyandot.  The ODNR also reported that as of March 2, production companies had taken out nearly 300 well permits.  Click to read more.

EMLF To Present Utica Title, Development Issues Conference April 14-16

The Energy & Mineral Law Foundation will host a two-day conference on "Title and Development Issues in the Utica Shale – Ohio" on April 14-16 in Columbus, Ohio.  The event is being held at the Hilton Columbus at Easton, 3900 Chagrin Drive.  A number of presentations will be provided on important and timely title, deed, ownership and mineral law issues. (Click to see agenda.)

The conference registration fee covers all educational sessions, looseleaf handbook with written materials by speakers, CD containing all written materials and PowerPoint presentations plus selected mineral titles articles previously published by the EMLF. Sunday night reception and dinner program, Continental breakfasts, Monday lunch and Monday reception, and refreshment breaks on both days are included in the registration fee

Hotel Accommodations: The EMLF has lined  up a block of hotel rooms at the Hilton at a special rate, but that block will be released on Sunday, March 24th.  Complete information and online registration and link to hotel reservations is available on the website at http://www.emlf.org

MCLE Credit: Conference accreditation is pending from states with mandatory Continuing Legal Education. The conference consists of 885 minutes (14.75 hours in 60-minute states and 17.7 hours in 50-minute states). Registrants may be required to reimburse EMLF for MCLE filing fees for certain states.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

W.Va. Democratic Party Leader Joins LGCR's Government Relations Affilliate

Derek Scarbro has joined LGCR Government Solutions, LLC (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the law firm Lewis, Glasser, Casey, & Rollins, PLLC) to assist with LGCRGS government relations activities.   He brings more than 10 years of political experience to the firm, most recently serving as the Executive Director of the West Virginia Democratic Party. Scarbro has years of experience in working with state and national officials and with the media.  He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Marshall University majoring in Political Science and International Affairs. In addition to the WV Democratic Party, Scarbro has also worked in the State Treasurer’s Office and the WV Development Office.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

XTO and Beck Energy Appeal Ohio Judge’s Decisions

XTO and Beck Energy are now attempting to appeal adverse decisions by the trial court in the Monroe County (Ohio) Common Pleas case, Hupp v. Beck Energy Corp.  The plaintiff landowners filed suit against Beck Energy claiming their leases with Beck Energy were void and should be terminated because Beck never drilled wells on their properties. According to the trial court’s decision, a range of three to nine years had elapsed since the various plaintiffs executed their leases.    The trial court granted summary judgment to the Plaintiffs on July 31, 2012, finding that the leases violated Ohio’s public policy encouraging oil and gas production.  The trial court also held that Beck Energy breached the implied covenant to reasonably develop the land by failing to drill any wells on any acreage under the leases.  The trial court then forfeited all of Beck Energy’s rights to the oil and gas under the plaintiffs’ properties.

On August 28, 2012, Beck Energy appealed the trial court’s decision granting summary judgment.  The Seventh District Court of Appeals, however, held that the appeal was premature and delayed the filing of Beck Energy’s appellate brief until after a final order was issued by the trial court.  While Beck Energy’s appeal was placed on hold, the plaintiffs filed a motion to certify a class action against Beck Energy.  The plaintiffs alleged there were more than 600 to 700 landowners that executed the same form oil and gas lease with Beck Energy.  On February 8, 2013, the trial court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification finding that all of the properties were covered by the same leases with the same basic terms.  The trial court then held this was a final appealable order, and Beck Energy’s appeal of the decision granting summary judgment could go forward.  On March 7, 2013, Beck Energy filed another notice of appeal of the decision and order certifying the class action.

After Beck Energy’s original appeal was filed, XTO Energy filed a motion to intervene as a necessary party on September 7, 2012.  XTO purchased Beck Energy’s “deep rights” to plaintiffs’ leases.  The purchase took place on November 9, 2011, after the plaintiffs filed the initial complaint against Beck Energy on September 14, 2011 and the Amended Class Action Complaint on September 29, 2011.  Because XTO purchased the “deep rights” to the plaintiffs’ leases after the lawsuit was filed, the trial court denied XTO’s motion to intervene.  The trial court relied on the fact that all of the parties with interest in the leases were parties to the lawsuit when it was filed, and XTO was not a necessary party.    The trial court also relied on the fact that the sales agreement between XTO and Beck Energy provided that Beck would defend title to the leases, which Beck did attempt to do. 

On March 1, 2013, XTO appealed the trial court’s denial of its motion to intervene, as well as the trial court’s order granting summary judgment and class certification.  Plaintiffs then filed a motion to dismiss XTO’s appeal on March 8, 2013, challenging XTO’s ability to appeal the decisions granting summary judgment and class certification.

Both Beck Energy and XTO have now taken this case to the Ohio Court of Appeals in an attempt to reverse the trial court’s decisions voiding the Beck Energy leases and certifying a class action.  Appellate briefs have not yet been filed as both landowners and the oil and gas industry await the outcome and ultimate effect of the trial courts decisions.

For more information, please contact Paul Garinger at pgaringer@lgcr.com.