Texas Lawyer Guest Article: Differing Results in Recent Nuisance Cases Against Oil and Gas Operators

09/05/2014

Over the past few months, a number of nuisance lawsuits against oil and gas companies have made the news. While the headlines often mention "fracking," hydraulic fracturing usually has little or nothing to do with these cases. These disputes actually are over other aspects of oil and gas development, including bright lights, loud noises, and odors from drilling, production, or transportation, rather than the fracking process itself.

Nuisance complaints about lights, noise, and fumes are nothing new. Texas courts have been dealing with such claims since the early days of Texas oil boom in the early 20th century. Balancing the needs of mineral owners and surface owners, Texas courts have historically been skeptical of such claims. 

In a typical nuisance case, a family or individual owns the surface estate of a tract of land. They live on the land. Under the land there is a valuable mineral estate, which the landowners may or may not own. The mineral owner leases the minerals to an oil and gas company, one or more wells are drilled on or near the land, and transportation and production facilities (tanks, compressors, pipelines, etc.) are built on or near the land. 

Excerpted from the Texas Lawyer, September 5, 2014. To view full article, click here.

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