EnergyBuzz

Post-Oil Spill Breach of Contract Dispute Leads to $36M Judgment

By Miriam Rozen |

Locke Lord team won for Spitzer Industries a $35.9 million judgment, including $3.5 million in attorney fees just for its firm, and $688,000 for contract attorneys.

Gerald Spedale.

Baker Botts, Akin Gump Do Deal for Valero

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld represents a conflicts committee advising Valero Energy Partners in its pending $325 million acquisition of a terminal services business from a subsidiary of Valero Energy Corp. of San Antonio.

Mikal Watts, partner at Watts Guerra. Photo©Mark Sobhani Photography

Acquitted, Watts to Pursue Criminal Justice Reforms

By Miriam Rozen |

"It is my new goal in life to use every resource available to me to reform a broken justice system," said the San Antonio plaintiffs lawyer who has earned $100s of millions in mass tort litigation during his career.

Mississippi Jurors Get Oil Spill Fraud Case Against Lawyer

By Jeff Amy |

Texas lawyer Mikal Watts and six other people each had plenty of opportunity to know they had a fake client list and were pursuing bogus claims after 2010's Gulf of Mexico oil spill, prosecutors told Mississippi jurors Wednesday in closing arguments.

Exxon Brawls with Massachusetts AG in Texas Over Probe Alleging Climate Change Fraud

By Angela Neville |

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey last week urged a federal trial judge in Texas to dismiss Exxon Mobil Corp.'s challenge to the state's investigation into allegations the oil company misled consumers and investors about climate change.

Oils rigs in the Permian Basin, Texas.

V&E, Sidley Advise on $1.625B Permian Basin Deal

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

The firms represent two Midland companies in the Texas asset transaction.

Southwest Firms Defied Legal Demand Drop-Off in Second Quarter, Data Show

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Managing partners said their firms have been busy during first and second quarters of 2016.

Texas Senate is Pushed to Streamline Groundwater Regulations

By Angela Neville |

Several attorneys, a Texas university policy group and a number of water rights groups recently urged a Texas Senate committee to simplify state groundwater regulations, saying the regulatory framework makes it difficult for businesses to carry out projects that involve the use of groundwater.

Latham Leads on $980M Permian Basin Play

By brenda sapino jeffreys |

Holland & Hart and Latham & Watkins are advising on private equity firm Riverstone Holdings' sale of Houston-based Rock Oil Holdings to SM Energy Co.

Pipeline under construction

Norton Rose Fulbright, Porter Hedges Work on Pipeline Deal

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Houston-based Enbridge Energy Partners is using Norton Rose Fulbright for a joint venture deal to acquire an interest in the Bakken Pipeline System.

Don Godwin's Firm Changes Name Again

By brenda sapino jeffreys |

Dallas trial firm Godwin PC adds two shareholders to its name, marking their contributions to firm.

Slumping Energy Companies May See IP as Way to Gain Back Profits

By Scott Flaherty |

With slumping commodities prices continuing to strap the energy sector, there's talk among some lawyers experienced in the industry that companies are increasingly looking to their intellectual property to generate income and position themselves ahead of rivals.

Randy Sabett, of counsel at Cooley in Washington, D.C. July 11, 2016. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM.

Outwitting Hacker Attacks

By Angela Neville |

The U.S. oil and gas sector is now paying attention to cybersecurity threats and working to defend its networks and physical assets. Randy Sabett, special counsel at Cooley in Washington, D.C., who specializes in privacy and data protection practice, discusses trends in protecting the oil and gas sector from cyberattacks.

Oils rigs in the Permian Basin, Texas.

EEOC Files Race-Bias Claims Against Two Oil-Patch Companies

By Miriam Rozen |

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a race-based employment discrimination complaint in San Antonio federal court against two oil-patch services companies.

C&J Energy Files for Bankruptcy after Reaching $1.4B Deal with Lenders

By Angela Neville |

A leading provider of well services to the U.S. and Canadian oil and gas industry filed for bankruptcy last week in Houston after reaching a debt-restructuring agreement with its lenders.

Weil Gotshal, Vinson & Elkins Lead on Energy Deal

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Weil, Gotshal & Manges represents Silver Run Acquisition Corp. of Houston in its pending acquisition of a controlling interest in a Denver-based oil and natural gas company that turned to Vinson & Elkins.

Mikal Watts, left, and Kenneth Feinberg, right.

At His Criminal Trial, Mikal Watts Counters Ken Feinberg's Testimony

By Miriam Rozen |

San Antonio plaintiffs' lawyer Mikal Watts attempted at his federal criminal trial in Mississippi to marshal evidence to counter the testimony against him provided by well-known claims fund administrator Ken Feinberg on a key point: Did Watts' firm provide Feinberg when asked with client contracts for the BP claimants it purported to represent?

Orrick Grows Latin America Team With Mayer Brown Hire

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Gabriel Salinas, who is licensed in the United States and Mexico, leaves Mayer Brown to join the Houston office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Texas Judge Rules Against Gas Company in Dispute Over FERC Penalty

By Angela Neville |

A gas and power company has no recourse in federal court to interrupt ongoing administrative proceedings as regulators pursue claims of manipulation of the natural gas market, a Texas judge said.

Midland Firm, 2 Lawyers Sued for Alleged Forum Shopping

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

A Midland landman and his companies seek $1 million or more from Cotton Bledsoe Tighe & Dawson, a current shareholder, and a former shareholder for how they handled lawsuits for them in three Texas counties.

Feinberg Testifies at Watts' Trial Over BP Claim Fraud Allegations

By Miriam Rozen |

Well-known victim funds administrator testified that he sought, but failed to receive, retention agreements showing Watts and his firm represented the 25,000 to 40,000 BP oil spill claimants, which the firm had identified on a spreadsheet as being represented by it.

Mikal Watts, partner at Watts Guerra poses at his office in San Antonio.

Criminal Trial Over Oil Spill Claims Opens

By Miriam Rozen |

The prosecution's arguments took less than 20 minutes and Mike McCrum, a San Antonio criminal defense lawyer who represents Mikal Watts' co-defendant, his brother David Watts, spoke for 90 minutes--presenting the two Watts brothers' case.

Sunoco Settles with EPA Over Oil Spills in Texas and Oklahoma

By Angela Neville |

Sunoco Pipeline will pay the U.S. government $850,000 in civil penalties to resolve environmental claims tied to crude oil spills from the company's Barbers Hill, Texas facility and from the Cromwell, Oklahoma, facility. Sunoco Pipeline is a subsidiary of Sunoco Logistics Partners Operations.

Dallas Lawyer Gets Back $16.9M Client Had Paid in Arbitration

By John Council |

The arbitration process has been a thorough nightmare for Tom Loose's energy company client. But Loose recently convinced Dallas Fifth Court of Appeals that his clients had a legal right to have their money back — including a finding that opposing counsel was jointly and severally liable for pre- and post-judgment interest in the case.

Prosecutors Violated Brady Rule, Mikal Watts Alleges

By Miriam Rozen |

On the first day of what is expected to unfold as his lengthy criminal trial, Mikal Watts, a well-known San Antonio, Texas, plaintiffs lawyer, filed a motion seeking to halt the prosecutors from presenting testimony and witnesses.

FERC Hits BP With $20M Fine for Alleged Texas Gas-Market Manipulation

By Angela Neville |

Federal energy regulators this week fined BP America Inc. more than $20 million for allegedly manipulating the natural gas market in Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008.

A well drilling rig works in the eastern plains of Colorado to reach the Niobrara Shale formation.

Predictions on Fallout from the Fracking Ruling in Wyoming

By Angela Neville |

Texas Lawyer recently spoke separately to Mark Barron, a Denver partner at BakerHostetler, and with Jeffrey Reeser, a member at Sherman & Howard in Denver who practices in the firm's energy and natural resources group, about a recent Wyoming federal court ruling that struck federal fracking regulations.

Jones Day, Bracewell and Others Advise $4B Pipeline Deal

By Lizzy McLellan |

A group of attorneys from Jones Day, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Troutman Sanders and Balch & Bingham are representing Southern Co. in the planned acquisition from Kinder Morgan of a 50 percent equity interest in the Southern Natural Gas pipeline system.

Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, left, walks out of the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse after the jury deliberated for a fifth full day in his trial, in Charleston, W.Va., on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015.

Mining Industry Groups Question Conspiracy Conviction of Ex-Massey CEO

By Angela Neville |

Three coal mining trade associations are raising concerns about the criminal conviction of ex-Massey Energy Chief Executive Officer Donald Blankenship for conspiracy to willfully violate mine health and safety regulations.

NRG GC: Energy Industry Faces a Challenging But Exciting Time

By Kristen Rasmussen |

When David Hill joined NRG Energy Inc. as the company's executive vice president and general counsel in September 2012, it was right in the middle of a big merger, and so Hill says he immediately "had to figure out how to put together two legal departments, both of which were composed of lawyers I didn't know."

The Impact of New Overtime Rules on the Texas Oil and Gas Sector

By Angela Neville |

Laura Gibson, a partner with the firm of Dentons, explains what impact the new federal overtime rules will have on the Texas oil and gas sector.

SEC: GC Part of "Egregious Fraud" at Dallas Energy Company

By kristen rasmussen |

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has accused executives at a Dallas oil and gas energy company, including the CEO and general counsel, of a "long-lasting and egregious fraud" that included spending investors' money at gentlemen's clubs.

Oil Exploration Company's Demand for Tax Refund Fails in Texas Supreme Court

By Angela Neville |

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday turned down an oil company's bid for a large tax exemption and held that Southwest Royalties Inc.'s purchases of casing, tubing, other well equipment and associated services were not exempt from sales taxes available to certain manufacturers.

Mexico Agrees to API Worker-Safety Standards

By ANGELA NEVILLE |

Mexico, as part of the country's initiative to attract outside investors, recently agreed to use the American Petroleum Institute's safety standards in its energy programs to promote worker safety at offshore drilling sites.

Ryan Sitton, Railroad Commissioner of Texas

A Texas Energy Regulator Rails on Agency's Arcane Name

By ANGELA NEVILLE |

You know the name if you work in the energy sector. The Texas Railroad Commission, around since 1891, regulates exploration, production and transportation of oil and natural gas in Texas.

Reagan Bradford

In-House Lawyer Who Hired W. Mark Lanier Joins His Firm

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Reagan Bradford, a former deputy general counsel at Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Corp., has joined Lanier Law Firm of Houston to do commercial litigation.

Haynes and Boone Hires Three Bankruptcy Laterals

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Three bankruptcy lawyers leave Winstead to join Haynes and Boone as partners in Dallas.

Kinder Morgan's $2B Gas Project Gets FERC Approval

By Angela Neville |

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently approved the approximately $2 billion Elba Liquefaction Project, which will be constructed and operated by the Kinder Morgan subsidiaries Elba Liquefaction Co. and Southern LNG Co.

Bracewell, Baker Botts Work on $12.2B Energy Acquisition

By Angela Neville |

Great Plains Energy, the parent of regulated power utility Kansas City Power & Light has turned to Bracewell for assistance with its pending acquisition of Westar Energy, the largest electric company in Kansas.

Steve Otillar, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer& Feld, Houston Texas

Akin Gump Partner Named President-Elect for Association of International Petroleum Negotiators

By Angela Neville |

Akin Gump oil and gas partner Steven Otillar, who works in the firm's Houston office, was recently nominated to serve as the president-elect of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators.

Previewing the Upcoming Mexican Deepwater Auction

By Angela Neville |

Relying on his extensive experience in the Latin American energy sector, Luis Gomar, a Dallas partner at Thompson & Knight, provides an in-depth look at what to expect in connection with the approaching auction of deepwater oil blocks to be hosted by the Mexican government in December.

2015 Corporate Scorecard: 6 Texas Firms Nationally Ranked for Corporate Finance, Capital Markets Work

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Six Texas firms are among the top dealmaking firms in several areas of corporate finance on The American Lawyer Corporate Scorecard 2016.

Mexico's Energy Industry 
Wins Big in Power Plant Auction

By Susan Postlewaite |

Mexico kicked off its historic public bidding to open its power sector to private foreign investors this spring, awarding rights to 11 international and Mexican companies in a move that energy lawyers called a huge step toward transforming its aging electric grid.

Texas Supreme Court Rules Water Drillers Must Accommodate Landowners' Rights

By Angela Neville |

The Texas Supreme Court recently expanded the accommodation doctrine—an important concept in oil and gas law—to groundwater estates and extends, for the first time, the same surface protections to landowners dealing with a severed groundwater estate.

David Ronn, a partner at the Houston office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Orrick, Baker Botts Work on BlueJack Securing $100M in Funding from Energy Spectrum

By Angela Neville |

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe recently represented BlueJack Energy in connection with the Dallas-based company's efforts in securing an initial private equity commitment of up to $100 million from Energy Spectrum Capital, which was represented by Baker Botts.

Hogan Lovells, Dechert Work on $600M KBR Deal

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Hogan Lovells represents KBR in the Houston-based company's pending acquisition of Wyle in a deal valued at $600 million. Wyle, of El Segundo, California, is using a team from Dechert.

Bradley Snead, Partner, Wright Close, Houston Texas.

Texas Supreme Court Rules for Schlumberger Subsidiary in Trade Secrets Dispute

By Angela Neville |

The Supreme Court of Texas recently handed down a decision in favor of M-I SWACO, a subsidiary of oil technology giant Schlumberger, which had charged National Oilwell Varco with stealing trade secrets.

George Parker Young

Chesapeake, Total E&P Reach $52.5M Settlement With Royalty Owners

By Angela Neville |

Chesapeake Energy and Total E&P USA recently reached a global settlement under which they will pay out a combined total of $52.5 million to more than 13,000 clients of two Texas-based law firms who claimed they were shortchanged related to their natural gas royalties.

Robert C. Hilliard, a partner in Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales in Corpus Christi.

Discovery to Proceed in Fisherwoman's Case Against Hilliard, Cracken

By Miriam Rozen |

A Houston state court has allowed discovery to proceed in a civil lawsuit against John Cracken from Dallas and Bob Hilliard from Corpus Christi, despite the two plaintiffs lawyers' motion to seek a stay in the litigation.

Latham Represents Company in $13B Pending Merger

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Latham & Watkins represents FMC Technologies in the Houston company's pending merger with French company Technip, creating a $13 billion company.

Texas Appeals Court Rules Alaska Pipeline Partners Are Bound by Unocal Duties

By Angela Neville |

The First District of Appeals in Texas recently dealt with a tangled business partnership between BP Pipelines (Alaska) Inc., ConocoPhillips Transportation Alaska Inc., Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. and former partner Unocal Pipeline Co. involving Trans-Alaska Pipeline business operations.

Energy Future Creditors Protest Accelerated Bankruptcy Plan

By Angela Neville |

Energy Future Holdings Corp. is running into strong headwinds from creditors as it tries speed up its schedule in its $42 billion Chapter 11 restructuring by seeking the court's approval of its new plan.

After Slow Start, M&A Lawyers Are Optimistic About Second Half of 2016

By Miriam Rozen |

Texas deal lawyers are working fast and furiously on oil and gas industry mergers and acquisitions. But the total value of such deals in that industry nationwide dropped in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same time in the prior year.

V&E, Sidley Work on $4.4B Energy Deal

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Sidley Austin represents Range Resources of Fort Worth in its pending acquisition of Houston's Memorial Resource Development Corp. for $4.4 billion including $1.1 billion in assumed debt.

Ropes & Gray Seeks $10.9M in Fees in Sabine Oil Bankruptcy

By Angela Neville |

Ropes & Gray is requesting approximately $10.9 million in attorney fees for five months of work representing the official committee of unsecured creditors in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case involving Sabine Oil & Gas Corporation.

Ryan Sitton, Railroad Commissioner of Texas

Railroad Commissioner Talks About International O&G Business Prospects at Dallas Symposium

By Angela Neville |

In remarks emphasizing the importance of international business opportunities for the Texas oil and gas sector, Railroad Commissioner of Texas Ryan Sitton recently discussed attractive prospects related to Mexico's new energy policy changes and overseas energy markets at the 28th Annual Texas Energy Council Symposium that was held at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.

Baker Botts, Orrick Handle $407M Shale Deal

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Baker Botts represents EQT Corp. of Pittsburgh in its pending purchase for $407 million, of assets from Houston's Statoil USA Onshore Properties, which turned to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Krysta De Lima, General Counsel, NextDecade.

NextDecade Seeks FERC Approval for $20B Texas Gas Pipeline and Export Facility

By Angela Neville |

NextDecade, The Woodlands, Texas-based energy company, recently applied for federal authorization to site, construct and operate the Rio Grande LNG, a proposed LNG export facility near Brownsville, Texas, and the Rio Bravo Pipeline, a 137-mile pipeline system that will provide the facility with its feed gas.

LaDawn Conway, Alexander Dubose Jefferson & Townsend LLP, Dallas TX.

Texas Supreme Court Reaffirms that Apache Doesn't Have to Pay on Expired O&G Leases

By Angela Neville |

The Texas Supreme Court recently turned down a request to rehear a motion filed by McDaniel Partners pertaining to its royalty battle with Apache Deepwater and reaffirmed that Apache was not obligated under the lapsed oil and gas leases to continue paying royalties.

Vinson & Elkins, Latham Handle $775M Pipeline Deal

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Vinson & Elkins represented a conflicts committee that advised Phillips 66 Partners on its pending $775 million purchase of a pipeline and assets from Phillips 66, which used Latham & Watkins.

Gas Drilling Company Hit with $5M Class Action for Alleged Underpayment of Royalties

By Angela Neville |

Plaintiff Charles Hicks recently filed a putative class action in an Arkansas federal court claiming that Southwestern Energy Company and its subsidiaries are defrauding him and the putative class members through underpayment of royalties and seeking in excess of $5 million in damages.

Jury Finds for Exxon in Indemnity Suit Against Fort Worth Energy Company

By Angela Neville |

A jury in a Harris County case recently found in favor of Exxon Mobil in a long-running dispute it has had with Fort Worth-based Trade Exploration Corp., and its principals, related to two earlier Louisiana lawsuits in which landowners sought damages from Exxon Mobil to remediate alleged environmental contamination.

Deborah Williamson, managing director, Cox Smith Matthews, San Antonio

Resurgence in Energy Bankruptcies Prompts New Edition of Book

By Brenda Sapino Jeffreys |

Deborah Williamson, a member in Dykema Cox Smith in San Antonio, updated an American Bankruptcy Institute book on oil patch bankruptcies.

istockphoto.com

Nominations Open for Texas Lawyer's Women in Energy Awards

Our 2016 Women in Energy awards will profile outstanding female attorneys in the Lone Star State who practice in the ever-changing area of energy law.

U.S. Department of Justice building in Washington, D.C.

ValueActs' Purchase of $2.5B of Halliburton and Baker Hughes Stock Triggers Antitrust Suit

By Angela Neville |

The U.S. Department of Justice recently filed a lawsuit against ValueAct Capital and its affiliates for allegedly violating U.S. antitrust laws in their recent purchase of approximately $2.5 billion of stock owned by Houston-based Halliburton and Baker Hughes.

Thomas Moore of Mayer Brown.

A Perspective on Impact of Failure to Freeze Oil Production

By Angela Neville |

Thomas Moore, Houston-based energy partner at Mayer Brown LLP, discusses the impact of the global oil exporters' failure to agree on an oil production freeze at the recent meeting in Doha, Qatar.

White Star To Acquire $200M in Shale Assets From Devon Energy

By Angela Neville |

White Star Petroleum is using the firm of Porter Hedges for its pending acquisition of Mississippi Lime and Woodford Shale assets for $200 million from Devon Energy Corp., which is being represented in the deal by two Houston Vinson & Elkins partners.

European Union May Object to $34.6B Halliburton-Baker Hughes Merger as Anticompetitive

By Angela Neville |

Halliburton Co.'s proposal to purchase oil-services rival Baker Hughes Inc. may soon be hit with new opposition from European Union (EU) regulators who are expressing concerns about how the merger of the two Houston-based oil services giants could hurt competition throughout the EU.

Federal Judge Consolidates 11 Antitrust Cases against Chesapeake Energy

By Angela Neville |

Chesapeake Energy Corp. and several other defendants are in the middle of a fierce fight in an Oklahoma federal court with a large number of plaintiffs who are alleging the defendants engaged in business actions that stifled competition in negotiating oil and gas leases and violated U.S. antitrust laws.

Judge Recuses Himself in Case to Block $34.6B Halliburton-Baker Hughes Merger

By Angela Neville |

U.S. District Judge Richard G. Andrews, who was presiding over the case in which the U.S. Department of Justice is seeking to block Halliburton Co.'s proposed $34.6 billion merger with Baker Hughes Inc., recently recused himself on the grounds that he has a "financial interest in Schlumberger."

Exxon Seeks to Block Subpoena Over Climate-Change Documents

Exxon Mobil Corp. is squaring off against government investigators who believe the energy giant covered up knowledge of how fossil fuels contribute to climate change.

EIV Uses Sidley, Porter Hedges for Sale of Energy Facilities

By Angela Neville |

EIV Capital, an energy industry-focused firm, and EIV MAS Georgia LFG, recently turned to the firms of Sidley Austin in Houston and Porter Hedges in Houston for assistance with their sale of four long-term contracted landfill gas-to-energy facilities located near Atlanta.

Exxon, Shell Win Superfund Case in Texas Third Court of Appeals

By Angela Neville |

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recently lost its appeal before the Texas Third Court of Appeals against Exxon Mobil Corporation, Exxon Mobil Oil Corporation, Shell Oil Company and Pennzoil-Quaker State Company.