Practice/Industry Group Overview
While natural gas/shale operations are relatively new in the Mid-Atlantic region, Spilman has been at the forefront of representing producers, service companies and investors in the oil and natural gas industries for more than 30 years. Some of our lawyers have worked as executives within oil and gas companies and draw upon their extensive practical knowledge of the day-to-day functions of businesses within these industries in advising Spilman’s clients.
Spilman Thomas & Battle serves exploration and production companies, midstream companies, trade associations, pipeline operators, storage and distributors, drilling contractors, service companies, public utilities, and commercial lenders in a wide range of matters including litigation, finance, mergers and acquisitions, fracking lawsuits, environmental regulation, real estate/land use, employment matters, and intellectual property.
Our Legal Services
Litigation. Spilman attorneys have experience defending clients’ interests across a broad range of matters in the oil and gas industry, including:
- Oil and gas drilling rights disputes
- Fracking ban disputes
- Royalty and bonus payment disputes
- Joint venture and co-ownership disputes
- Real property disputes
- Lease challenges
- Breach of contracts
- Federal and state regulatory disputes
- Fraudulent mispresentation
- Hazardous Site Cleanup Act violations
- Negligence and private nuisance claims
- Temporary easements
- Torts to land disputes
We are licensed to practice in all areas of the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays, including in all Pennsylvania and West Virginia state and federal courts.
Our recent experience includes:
- Representing Texas-based gas producers and land companies in disputes over natural gas leases in Pennsylvania and West Virginia
- Representing Marcellus Shale exploration and production companies in litigation in state and federal courts, including defending against claims for bonus and anniversary payments under oil and gas leases, defending declaratory judgment actions, and defending against claims attempting to repudiate leases
- Representing exploration and production companies in quiet title and curative actions in Pennsylvania
- Representing and advising companies involved in exploration and production in the Marcellus Shale, including providing advice on issues including operations, joint ventures, top leases, preferential rights, bonus and anniversary payments, exercising lease options, and rights-of-way for pipelines
Finance, mergers and acquisitions. Our attorneys understand the legal aspects of exploring for, producing, transporting, storing, marketing and processing natural gas petroleum products. In fact, one of our attorneys served as chief administrative and senior operations executive for a $100+ million Appalachian oil and gas production company.
Some of our recent experience includes:
- Representing a large Pennsylvania-based gas producer in its acquisition of Marcellus Shale drilling rights on 40,000 acres of land in Pennsylvania and West Virginia
- Representing a West Virginia-based producer in its $100 million equity financing for the development of Marcellus Shale properties
- Providing day-to-day legal advice to gas producers on matters ranging from drilling partnerships and joint ventures to gas marketing, leasing and other similar commercial arrangements
- Representing and advising companies involved in exploration and development in the Marcellus Shale, including providing advice regarding lease documents and on issues such as the exercise of lease options and rights-of-way for pipelines
Environmental regulation. Our firm counsels clients across all environmental law matters and regularly deals with the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, Pennsylvania and West Virginia Departments of Environmental Protection and regional bodies such as SRBC. We are active with industry coalitions (Independent Oil and Gas Associations of Pennsylvania (IOGA), and the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Association (POGAM)) with respect to regulatory developments.
Real estate/land use. Our real estate attorneys handle matters ranging from structuring large, multi-asset transactions for businesses to serving as counsel for multi-state transactions and managing local real estate matters for developers, lenders and individuals. Our capabilities include leasing, acquisition, land-use, real estate-related litigation, construction, and buying and selling natural resource companies and properties. We have significant experience with real estate throughout Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Public Utility Law. Spilman's energy attorneys have extensive experience in representing and advising clients on matters related to state and federal regulation of utility industries, including natural gas, water and wastewater development and distribution. We are well-versed on the principles employed by public utility regulators on issues related to regulatory jurisdiction, standards of utility conduct, and the development and approval of utility rates. Our firm is well-placed to assist clients with a broad range of public utility matters, including navigation of regulatory rules and policies, formation of utility supply contracts, and general representation in regulatory commission proceedings. We have many years of experience representing clients before the Public Service Commission of West Virginia and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Labor and employment. Our firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group, which is ranked nationally by U.S. News & World Report, consists of more than 25 lawyers and an extraordinary support staff. Whether it is counseling on complex issues, partnering to manage union relations, or defending employee claims and lawsuits, we have earned an exemplary reputation throughout the region. Our lawyers are well-versed in every specific federal, state and local employment law that affects the employment relationship.
Intellectual property. Spilman intellectual property attorneys assist our clients as they develop technologies specifically related to Marcellus Shale exploration and production. Specifically, we provide the following capabilities to the Marcellus Shale industry:
- Infringement matters involving patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret law
- Preparation and prosecution of patent and trademark applications
- Evaluation of invention disclosures and new/ proposed trademarks
- Trademark clearance and risk assessment
- Unfair competition and false advertising issues
- Commercial IP issues relating to employment matters, commercial agreements, product development, and sales and marketing
- Technology licensing, joint development agreements and confidentiality/nondisclosure agreements
For more information on our Marcellus & Utica Shale practice, please contact our practice group leaders:
Michael G. Connelly
James A. Walls