Recent Litigation Related to Oil and Gas Drilling


With oil and gas drilling comes both literal and figurative rumbling. The drilling, production, and transportation processes—from the fracing trucks’ arrival at the well site to the disposal of used frac fluid—are loud, smelly, and potentially disruptive to others even if done perfectly. As urban drilling operations now occur more often in populous areas—particularly around the Marcellus and the Barnett Shales—the rumbling of litigation grows louder as well. Some surface estate owners object to the commotion caused by urban drilling, and some are suing oil and gas companies alleging a variety of causes of action, including negligence, nuisance, and trespass.

Surface owners’ complaints about noise, odors, and alleged water contamination are nothing new. Although one drilling technique in particular—hydraulic fracturing or “fracing”—has become the latest lightning rod for controversy related to oil and gas drilling, recent litigation attacks all aspects of oil and gas drilling, production, and transportation, not just fracing. The claims asserted in the current wave of litigation resemble those brought by surface owners’ against oil and gas companies in the 1990s.

This Article provides an overview of recent litigation concerning onshore oil and gas drilling, and explores the validity (or lack thereof) of the surface owner claims.

Presented at Better Than Barnett: New Developments in the Legal and Regulatory Issues in the Eagle Ford Shale, October 18, 2011, Houston, Texas. To read the full paper, click on the PDF linked below.

PDF - Litigation_Oil_Gas_Drilling.pdf

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