The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Oil, Gas, and Mining to impose a joint operating agreement (JOA) on J.P. Furlong Company’s relationship with the party operating a drilling unit that included Furlong’s mineral lease. Furlong complained that the Board accepted, without making any of the changes to the JOA that Furlong wanted, the JOA the operator proposed. On appeal, Furlong argued that the Board erroneously applied the law to conclude that the JOA was just and reasonable and that there was not substantial evidence to support the Board’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board correctly applied the law and rendered a decision supported by substantial evidence. View "J.P. Furlong Co. v. Board of Oil & Gas Mining" on Justia Law
Posted in: Energy, Oil & Gas Law, Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law, Utah Supreme Court
Trans-Western filed an amended complaint in federal district court asserting claims against U.S. Gypsum for breach of an oil and gas lease and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. The district court found that U.S. Gypsum had wrongfully rescinded the lease and that the rescission constituted a breach of contract and a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. The court awarded nominal damages of one dollar to Trans-Western. The parties appealed. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals certified to the Supreme Court the question of how to measure expectation damages for the breach of an oil and gas lease. The Supreme Court answered (1) expectation damages for the breach of an oil and gas lease are measured in much the same way as expectation damages for the breach of any other contract; (2) damages may include general and consequential damages; and (3) trial courts may allow the use of post-breach evidence to help establish and measure expectation damages. View "Trans-Western Petroleum, Inc. v. U.S. Gypsum Co." on Justia Law
The Board of Oil, Gas and Mining (Board) affirmed the approval by the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (Division) of Alton Coal Development's (ACD) mining permit, which allowed ACD to conduct surface coal mining operations at the Coal Hollow Mine. Petitioners appealed, arguing that the Board erred in affirming ACD's permit because the permit application was deficient in several respects. The Supreme Court affirmed the Board's decision, holding (1) the Board properly concluded that the Division gave adequate consideration to cultural and historic resources in the adjacent area; (2) the Board properly concluded that the Division's cumulative hydrological Impact Assessment satisfied Utah's requirements; (3) the Board properly concluded that the hydrologic monitoring plan was adequate; and (4) therefore, the Board acted within its discretion in affirming the Division's conclusions that ACD's mining permit application satisfied all of the statutory and regulatory requirements. View "Sierra Club v. Bd. of Oil, Gas, & Mining" on Justia Law
Appellants, Marion Energy and the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, leased and owned oil and gas deposits lying underneath property owned by the KFJ Ranch Partnership. In order to build a road to access those deposits, Appellants sought to condemn a portion of KFJ's land by relying upon a statute that permits the exercise of eminent domain for the construction of roads to facilitate the working of mineral deposits. The district court dismissed Appellants' condemnation action, concluding that the statute did not provide the authority to take land for roads to access oil and gas deposits. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's dismissal, holding that the phrase "mineral deposits" in the statute was ambiguous, and because all ambiguities in a statute purporting to grant the power of eminent domain are strictly construed against the condemning party, Appellants were not authorized by the statute to condemn KFJ's land. View "Marion Energy, Inc. v. KFJ Ranch P'ship" on Justia Law
Posted in: Energy, Oil & Gas Law, Real Estate & Property Law, Utah Supreme Court, Zoning, Planning & Land Use
Appellants Marion Energy (Marion) and the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (the Trust) leased and owned oil and gas deposits that lay underneath property owned by the KFJ Ranch Partnership (KFJ). To build a road to access their deposits, Marion and the Trust sought to condemn a portion of KFJ's land. To do so, they relied on a statute that permits the exercise of eminent domain for the construction of roads to facilitate the working of "mineral deposits." At issue was whether the phrase "mineral deposits" as used in the statute was intended by the legislature to encompass oil and gas deposits. The district court granted KFJ's motion to dismiss, concluding that the statute did not provide authority to take land for roads to access oil and gas deposits. On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the statute is ambiguous as to whether "mineral deposits" includes oil and gas, and (2) because the Court strictly construes an ambiguous statute purporting to grant the power of eminent domain against the condemning party, Marion and the Trust were not authorized by the statute to condemn KFJ's land.