Practice/Industry Group Overview
Liskow & Lewis is nationally recognized for its depth and experience in state and federal energy litigation and arbitration. We represent the leading companies in the energy industry and have been involved in landmark cases that have shaped the development of law in this area in Louisiana, Texas, and nationally. Our large and sophisticated energy litigation practice covers all aspects of the natural resources industry, including:
The companies we counsel are involved in both the upstream exploration and production sides of the industry, as well as the downstream refining and marketing functions and we regularly represent these clients in matters that arise in these areas of activity. Our practice also includes appearing as counsel for industry amicus curiae in Louisiana, Texas, and federal courts in cases of significance in which our clients are not directly involved as parties.
Landowner and Mineral Lessee Disputes
Disputes between landowners/royalty owners and mineral lessees are a vital part of our energy litigation practice. For more than 70 years, our litigators have helped establish much of the controlling jurisprudence regarding mineral leases and landowner/lessee relations. Virtually all of the standard lease forms have been a part of our litigation practice. These include Louisiana state lease forms dating back to the 1920s, federal offshore and onshore lease forms and numerous individually negotiated forms.
We counsel companies in a wide array of mineral lease matters, including oil, natural gas, and products royalty and valuation issues, and legacy site disputes over land damage, surface use, clean-up, and restoration claims.
Our lawyers handle cases involving implied obligations under mineral leases including lease maintenance through drilling, reworking and production in paying quantities. We also assist organizations with disputes concerning the disposal of produced salt water and the utilization of surface locations for pipelines and other production-related activities.
Land Ownership and Expropriation Litigation
Properly determining ownership issues affecting productive or prospective acreage is fundamental to the oil and gas industry. Throughout our history, our firm has assisted clients with determining title rights for oil and gas properties. We also litigate issues when needed, including concursus or (interpleader) suits when competing claimants to property exist.
Our firm has been a leader in representing oil and gas companies in the expropriation of needed property rights for pipelines and related facilities and underground natural gas and products storage fields. Such litigation often involves large-scale projects requiring the urgent filing and prosecution of multiple suits.
Liskow & Lewis attorneys have prosecuted landmark cases regarding natural gas underground storage reservoirs.
Oil and Gas Marketing Disputes
Many of the disputes within the energy industry involve marketing issues, an area in which our firm is particularly experienced.
When the industry was plagued with long-term natural gas sales contracts at fixed or slowly escalating prices in the 1970s, we handled much of the litigation that settled these issues. Later, when disputes focused on the interpretation and enforcement of natural gas take-or-pay contracts, our firm was centrally involved.
We are well versed in the various matters facing producers, transporters, and marketers of oil, natural gas, and products, including transportation, sales, product handling, and federal and state regulation of these activities.
Joint Operating Agreement Matters and other Disputes between Co-Owners
The firm has been involved in significant litigation and arbitrations involving disputes between operators and non-operators under joint operating agreements and other claims between companies involved in joint participation and other development efforts. These matters range from assertions involving the propriety of joint account expenses, asserting and defending claims relating to alleged operator gross negligence, and claims with respect to efforts to remove operators from operatorship, and, more generally, a wide range of issues involving the interpretation and application of contractual provisions pertaining to joint oil and gas operations.
Oil and Gas Regulatory Litigation and Administrative Proceedings
Liskow & Lewis routinely represents oil and gas producers, both individually and in joint industry groups, in administrative proceedings before federal and state agencies and in judicial reviews following administrative proceedings.
Our attorneys have handled hundreds of administrative appeals of orders issued by the Department of the Interior and its sub-agencies pertaining to royalty obligations, operational regulatory requirements and penalty assessments. Our litigators have successfully taken many of these cases through to the federal appellate level, including multiple cases that resulted in landmark decisions in this area.
We regularly handle administrative appeals of orders issued by the Department of the Interior and its sub-agencies pertaining to royalty obligations, operational regulatory requirements and penalty assessments. These appeals have involved a broad array of substantive issues, including deep water royalty relief, civil penalties, gas contract settlement claims, valuations arising from affiliated transactions, post-production costs, duty to market, major portion valuation, lost and used hydrocarbons, dual accounting, statute of limitations, “takes vs. entitlements” accounting and challenges to federal regulations.
Gas Plant Litigation
Our firm has considerable experience in the litigation, arbitration and negotiation of natural gas processing plant issues and disputes. We have assisted plant owners in a variety of disputes with pipelines and royalty owners regarding natural gas liquids, plant loss valuation, keep-whole provisions, supply dedication and the negotiation or renegotiation of processing contracts.
Severance and Other State and Local Tax Litigation
As a result of our extensive natural resources and energy background, Liskow & Lewis has played a leading role in a broad range of tax disputes with the State of Louisiana on behalf of the oil and gas industry.
Our attorneys represented industry members in successfully attacking Louisiana’s First Use Tax on natural gas. We also aggressively contested ad valorem tax rates and valuation procedures used by the state on behalf of natural gas pipeline companies.
We regularly represent energy clients, including plants, refineries, and service industries, in contesting sales and use taxes imposed by state and local taxing districts on processes, raw materials, or fuel used in operations. Our lawyers also negotiate with the Department of Revenue those tax matters involving litigation, as well as those not yet in litigation.
Acquisition and Divestiture Disputes
Our firm handles the range of issues and disputes that can arise in connection with the acquisition and divestiture of oil and gas properties, including title disputes, preferential rights, letters of intent, financing disputes, and valuation issues.
Liskow & Lewis’ energy litigation team is strongly positioned to provide assistance to those in the oil and gas industry who have been or may be adversely affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita or similar natural catastrophes. Relevant issues that our lawyers can address include insurance/indemnity coverage, oil and gas lease maintenance questions, regulatory matters, disputes relating to physical damage to facilities, internal investigations and rights and liabilities relating to contractual ventures.