On Oil and Gas Litigation

The energy, gas and oil sector is a large and important industry in the city of Houston, however, the many years of drilling and dredging performed by this sector is said to have not only greatly contributed to the dramatic loss of wetlands which help reduce storm surges, especially in southeast Louisiana, but have also caused the disappearance of 16 to 50 percent of about 2,000 square miles of land.

Due to the loss of the wetlands, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East now emphasizes the necessity of building higher levees and floodwalls, which means increased costs for building defenses against storm surges. Due to this, said agency intends to hold liable as many as 97 companies; these companies may either repair the damage themselves or contribute to the cost of flood protection today and henceforth.

The lawsuit the agency plans to file against the 97 companies has three major claims:

  • First, though the drilling and dredging was legally permitted but with the condition that these companies will repair any environmental damage, no repair was ever done.
  • Second, years of drilling and dredging, which have turned swamplands into open water, have impaired the effectiveness of a levee – a violation of the federal Rivers and Harbors Act.
  • Third, a principle of civil law called “servitude of drainage,” is said to have been violated since the marshes, which have been turned to open water, have increased the amount of storm surges that move into the metro area during hurricanes and tropical storms. This “servitude of drainage” law strictly prohibits anyone from causing an increase in the flow of water onto someone else’s property.

According to the law firm Williams Kherkher, “The energy industry can be difficult to understand, especially when it comes to the legal requirements that must be met in order to begin work and challenges that arise after the job is complete. Navigating the laws, both state and federal, that apply to the energy sector can be difficult due to the complexities surrounding every aspect of energy extraction. For instance, once an extraction project is allowed to begin, getting it up and running is expensive and any heated disagreement can stop it in its tracks. Additionally, ownership rights of oil and gas can be especially complicated, as different laws govern oil and gas before and after it has been captured.

In addition to this, disagreements that might block the completion of an energy project can be extremely costly for everyone involved. Thus, if you are facing legal issues that may include construction disputes, false claims act suits, royalty disputes, or any other energy, oil, or gas related issue, it may be advantageous to have a seasoned lawyer who will be able to help you navigate the difficulties associated the litigation.”

Read More