Practice/Industry Group Overview
Since the founding of our firm more than 70 years ago, Liskow & Lewis has been a leader in all aspects of energy and natural resources law. We have represented almost all of the major energy companies involved in the domestic production, processing, sale and distribution of oil and natural gas, both onshore and offshore. We also advise many foreign entities, as well as small- and medium-sized companies and individuals active in the industry.
From preliminary counsel relating to drilling through transportation of the finished product to consumers, Liskow & Lewis handles all phases of energy law. These include:
Our long history and experience in the oil and gas industry enable us to help clients capitalize on opportunities and assist in times of crisis. Our understanding of Louisiana’s vulnerability to hurricanes allows us to provide counsel and assistance across a comprehensive range of disaster recovery issues, including litigating matters when needed.
Scope of Experience
Our practice area attorneys work closely with our environmental and business sections in matters related to exploration, development, production, transportation and marketing of oil and gas reserves. This cooperative approach provides a distinct advantage for clients seeking comprehensive and integrated assistance with all areas of energy law, including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, reorganizations, project finance, contracts, permits, regulatory matters, rights-of-way and title reviews.
In our representation of companies that refine oil and process natural gas, we handle a broad range of downstream matters involving pricing issues, gas purchase agreements, salt water disposal agreements and processing plant leasehold issues.
Since the firm’s inception, we have represented pipeline companies in their formation of right-of-way agreements, negotiations with landowners, expropriation of necessary rights-of-way and the securing of governmental permits necessary for the transport of minerals through the state of Louisiana.
Our business attorneys represent lenders and borrowers in financing the acquisition, development and divestiture of producing properties, establishing lines of credit for general corporate purposes and financing pipeline, drilling rig and production equipment. We also are experienced in mezzanine financing, production payment financing, leveraged lease transactions and the execution of energy-related mortgages and other security devices.
To assist entities, our attorneys help pool capital and spread risk with the formation of partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies and other enterprises. We also have experience in onshore properties and with the special issues arising in financing properties located on the federal Outer Continental Shelf.
Energy-Related Contract Drafting and Review
Our firm’s experience in oil and gas also extends to contracts. Many of the standard contracts in the oil and gas industry follow the forms developed by our attorneys, and the most commonly used oil, gas and mineral lease in Louisiana contains provisions originally drafted by our lawyers.
Using knowledge gathered through decades of involvement in the industry, our attorneys guide clients through the many complex transactions involved in acquisitions and divestitures of energy-related properties. Our attorneys have participated in many of the largest transfers of energy-related properties that have occurred in and offshore of the Gulf Coast states.
We regularly draft, review and negotiate contracts for parties involved in actual drilling activities and when needed, we negotiate to have the activities performed. Our lawyers represent clients in disputes involving processing charges, royalty payments due to landowners, rights earned by the parties under exploration or farmout agreements, seismic permits, licensing agreements and other related matters. When companies face arbitration or administrative review of such disputes, our attorneys regularly handle such matters.
Liskow & Lewis attorneys negotiate contracts with landowners on the terms of oil and gas leases, surface and subsurface agreements, pooling and unitization agreements and damage releases. Clients also retain our firm to help with their contractual relationships with other oil and gas exploration entities. This often involves drafting farmout agreements, exploration agreements, participation agreements, overriding royalty interest assignments, net profits interest assignments, master service agreements, drilling contracts and turnkey drilling agreements.
Office of Conservation (Unitization) and State Mineral Board
Since 1940, Liskow & Lewis attorneys have practiced before the Louisiana Office of Conservation, which is governed by the Commissioner of Conservation and charged with regulating the oil and gas industry in Louisiana.
Our firm has assisted with drafting various statutes relating to the authority of the Commissioner of Conservation, drafting several of the Statewide Orders that govern oil and gas operations in Louisiana, and formulating the procedural rules adopted by the Commissioner. We also guide clients through all stages of the agency, from the well permitting process to the eventual plugging of oil and gas wells.
We also frequently appear before the State Mineral Board to represent clients in connection with leasing state-owned land for oil and gas purposes.
Pipeline Servitudes, Rights-of-Way, Easements and Expropriation
Liskow & Lewis has represented numerous clients, including many of the country’s largest pipeline carriers, in matters relating to the transportation of oil, gas and other minerals through pipelines.
Our attorneys are experienced in the examination of title documents, preparation of right-of-way and servitude agreements, negotiation of terms of rights-of-way and servitudes with attorneys for landowners and the landowners themselves. We have also been active in the acquisition of permits from various governmental agencies and railroads and the supervision of acquisitions of rights-of-way for pipelines.
Firm attorneys have developed a close working relationship with executives from companies securing and constructing pipelines. We participate in due diligence examination of records in connection with sales and transfers of pipelines, and negotiate and prepare documents relating to the sales and transfers of pipelines, systems and facilities. When necessary, oil and gas attorneys also assist our litigators with expropriation lawsuits.
The firm’s history in the energy industry includes the rendering of title opinions for exploration companies contracting with the owners of mineral rights. Our lawyers draw upon our research library of memoranda addressing a wide array of issues and problems of importance to the industry.
Liskow & Lewis’ land title library includes thousands of opinions affecting tracts of land in many parishes throughout Louisiana and on the Outer Continental Shelf. This library gives us an institutional knowledge of the ownership of tracts of land throughout the state and in federal offshore waters and saves our clients the considerable time and expense involved with researching old chains of title.
In the course of title examination, our attorneys often coordinate the activities of abstracters, landmen and lease brokers in securing materials necessary to establish the ownership of property. Following the examination of a title, we may draft curative documents or secure missing instruments from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE); the Bureau of Land Management; or the State Land Office so the title may be properly recorded in the parishes at issue. Additionally, we often institute succession proceedings, conducting negotiations with estate representatives or trust officers to clarify or settle title.
Outer Continental Shelf; Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement
Our attorneys are experienced in a wide variety of matters involving oil and gas properties located on the federal Outer Continental Shelf. We regularly advise domestic and foreign clients on general corporate matters (including initial entity selection), qualification to own and operate federal offshore leases, obtaining approval of assignments and other conveyances, satisfying bonding requirements, title analysis and rendering title opinions. We also regularly advise clients on mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and matters in connection with the lessees’ royalty obligations.
From the inception of the federal offshore leasing program in the 1950s and into the 21st Century, Liskow & Lewis has been counsel in many of the landmark decisions by federal courts involving offshore oil and gas issues. We have provided advice and representation on the interpretation and application of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Mineral Lands Leasing Act, the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act, the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Simplification and Fairness Act, the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act of 1995, the False Claims Act, and Interior’s operational and royalty regulations; and we have drafted comments on proposed changes to Interior’s regulations. We regularly represent federal offshore lessees with regard to issues arising from affiliated transactions, the marketable condition rule, post-production costs, gas contract settlements, market value (including the use of posted prices to value crude oil), flared and lost gas, used gas, statutes of limitations, and royalty relief. In addition, we routinely represent clients before the BOEMRE in connection with disputes over lease maintenance, compliance with regulations governing OCS operations, and threatened imposition of civil and criminal penalties.
Drawing upon the firm’s long history in the oil and gas field, our energy and natural resources lawyers are strongly positioned to provide assistance to those who have been or may be adversely affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita or similar natural catastrophes. They work closely with our energy litigation team and other firm lawyers to address a broad range of such issues.