Energy litigation: oil and gas in United States
Experienced in handling royalty disputes, lease disputes and commercial litigation, Baker Botts L.L.P. has a truly full-service practice covering all three streams of the oil and gas sector. The firm's ability is reflected in the variety of its client list, which includes the likes of Chevron Corporation, ConocoPhillips and Shell. William Kroger is the head of the energy litigation team, which won a major case for Murphy at the Texas Supreme Court hinging on the interpretation of an offset well clause in the context of horizontal drilling; the court recognized significant differences between horizontal and vertical drilling and decided that Murphy drilled in the appropriate location according to the lease; Macey Reasoner Stokes and Jason Newman led on this matter. Elsewhere, Aaron Streett and others are defending Southwestern Energy in a royalty class action in which the plaintiffs allege they suffered $200m in damages; the case involves the question of whether an oil and gas operator may deduct market-rate fees for services provided by its subsidiaries. Russell Lewis, a commercial litigation and enforcement specialist, is also recommended. Meghan McElvy and Louie Layrisson were both promoted to the partnership in January 2018. Named attorneys are based in Houston.
Based in Houston, trial and appellate boutique Beck Redden is led by David Beck. In the past, the team has acted for Cameron International Corporation in multibillion-dollar litigation following the high-profile 2011 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The firm's robust track record in the oil and gas space is further demonstrated by its successful past representation of Texas Bar X Limited in litigation arising from a confidentiality agreement made with Anadarko Petroleum. Matthew Whitley is the name to note for oil and gas-related IP and commercial disputes.
Both household names and small- to medium-sized entities in the oil and gas industry feature in Gibbs & Bruns LLP's impressive client base; the Houston-based trial boutique has an extensive track record in litigating bet-the-company matters and engaging in complex commercial litigation. Highlights include head of team Robin Gibbs and Mark Giugliano representing Enterprise Products in a lawsuit against Amec Foster Wheeler which started in 2016; the client asserts numerous claims including breach of contract, breach of warranty, fraudulent inducement and cost overruns worth over $850m; recent work on the matter includes extensive document discovery and filing merits depositions. In defense work, Barrett Reasoner acted for BHP Billiton in a dispute brought by a non-operator alleging unauthorized drilling and workover operations and anti-competitive gathering rates, seeking over $15m in damages; a favorable settlement was reached between the parties. Occidental Petroleum, Sanchez Oil & Gas, Pioneer Natural Resources and Kinder Morgan are some other noteworthy clients of the firm. Head of team Kathy Patrick, Ayesha Najam and Brian Ross are also recommended. Colin Pogge, David Sheeren and Brice Wilkinson were all made up to partner in October 2018; Jennifer Horan Greer and Jeffrey Kubin retired in March 2018.
The 'excellent' trial and global disputes group at King & Spalding LLP deals with the firm's contentious oil and gas work. Tracie Renfroe (Houston) leads the practice and Robert Meadows (Houston), Reginald Smith (Houston), Charles Correll (San Francisco) and Tim Engel (DC) are all key points of contact. A team including Meadows and Correll is representing Chevron in multiple lawsuits arising from an explosion and fire at the client's refinery in Richmond, California; the firm has secured the dismissal of over 10,000 plaintiffs in individual claimant actions and two purported class actions at the pleadings stage. Elsewhere, Renfroe, Houston-based Carol Wood and others are defending ConocoPhillips in a series of climate change lawsuits; the plaintiffs seek potentially billions of dollars to redeem municipalities’ claimed costs of infrastructure modifications to prepare for a future allegedly threatened by a climate change for which the client is responsible. Additionally, the firm is active in litigation related to toxic torts, personal injury, property damage and trade secrets, as well as international arbitration. Craig Stanfield, noted for his knowledge of toxic and environmental torts, joined the Houston office from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in January 2018. Also based in Houston, onshore and offshore energy project specialist Andrew Stakelum was made partner in January 2018.
Contentious oil and gas matters are managed by the complex commercial litigation team at Vinson & Elkins LLP; this is jointly led by Jim Thompson (Houston), John Wander (Dallas), Craig Seebald (DC) and Guy Lipe (Houston). Notable clients of the practice include Anadarko Petroleum and Occidental Petroleum. Significant work included Houston-based Patrick Mizell and others obtaining a dismissal of $400m in alleged fraud claims brought against international energy trading company Vitol; this involved representation at courts of appeals and the Texas Supreme Court. Mizell also leads in representing Apache Corporation in several climate change lawsuits in the Northern District of California; the plaintiffs are Californian municipalities seeking $2bn in damages for a predicted future rise in sea level. Also recommended are Mark Rodriguez (Houston), Matthew Stammel (Dallas) and Phillip Dye (Houston). Austin-based commercial litigator Marisa Secco was promoted to the partnership.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP's impressive track record of work in the oil and gas space includes representation in industry-wide criminal antitrust cases, cases arising from oil spills and those concerning refinery explosions. Anna Rotman (Houston), Daniel Donovan (DC) and Matthew Regan (Chicago) are key contacts for the firm's litigation practice. The team handled significant work for BP in 2018; in an ongoing matter, Regan and others act for the client in civil litigation and appeals arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion and fire, which resulted in an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In DC, Ragan Naresh and Donovan are representing defendant Chesapeake Appalachia in a lawsuit brought by some lessors of land in Wyoming alleging violations of well-density and pooling requirements, the underpayment of royalties, and failure to operate for the mutual benefit of the parties. Chicago-based senior litigation partner Richard Godfrey is also recommended. Of counsel Nicholas Gladd (DC), who has expertise in both regulatory and contentious matters, joined from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in March 2019.
The team at Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP has focused on commercial and business litigation and arbitration in the energy sector - specifically contentious work arising from disputes over contracts such as joint operating agreements (JOAs), gas sale and purchase contracts, crude oil trading agreements, and oil and gas leases. Additionally, the firm's wider expertise in energy regulation gives it the ability to represent clients at federal- and state-level permitting proceedings. Daniel McClure (Houston) is the name to note for upstream litigation, such as royalty disputes. Bob Comer (Denver) and Stephen Dillard (Houston) are also noteworthy.
Susman Godfrey LLP
All attorneys at Susman Godfrey LLP have served as clerks for federal judges or US Supreme Court Justices, giving the team a unique insight into the operation of the courts. The firm 'takes a meticulous approach to complex litigation', handling both defense and plaintiff work for its oil and gas clients, which include major names such as Hess Corporation and Eni Petroleum. All named lawyers are based in Houston, with Neal Manne and the 'always-focused' Thomas Paterson leading the energy litigation practice. In an ongoing highlight, Manne and others are representing Chevron in a string of climate change lawsuits across the country, which could cost the client millions of dollars. Additionally, a group led by Robert Safi was retained by Mirada Energy to prosecute a dispute arising from a JOA, which allowed the client to participate in midstream facilities that the counterparty is constructing to serve parts of the Bakken and Three Forks shale plays; the case involves over $100m in claims. Ashley McMillian, Alexander Kaplan and Adam Carlis are also noted.
Thompson & Knight LLP
Class action cases, oil and gas lease disputes, royalty litigation and contentious toxic tort matters are some significant areas of work for Thompson & Knight LLP's energy litigation group, which is part of its wider trial practice. The team 'produces quality written documents and successfully argues a client's position before the judge' and individuals are 'incredibly knowledgeable and confident advice-givers'. Dallas-based partners Gregory Binns and Greg Curry are the key contacts. Also in Dallas, Craig Haynes and others are defending an oil and gas exploration and production company in a class action lawsuit pertaining to alleged underpaid royalties owed to the plaintiffs under several oil and gas leases. Fort Worth-based partner Conrad Hester, noted for contract dispute and royalty litigation work, was promoted to the partnership. Also in Forth Worth, Robert Vartabedian is recommended.
Baker & Hostetler LLP's energy industry team works with clients operating in the Marcellus and Utica Shales, the Eagle Ford and Barnett Shales and the Permian basin, among others, and handles litigation arising from these concerns. L. Poe Leggette (Denver) is the head of the group; he often represents clients in litigation related to onshore shale plays and federal and private mineral royalties. In a recent highlight, a group led by Mark Barron (Denver) is acting for Western Energy Alliance in challenging the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) handling federal oil and gas lease sales; the client asserts that the way in which BLM schedules these lease sales violates federal law. In 2018, the US Department of the Interior formally adopted a revised Instruction Memorandum directing BLM to correct the illegal leasing practices identified by Western Energy Alliance. Shell Oil Company and Carrizio Oil & Gas are some other key clients. W. Ray Whitman (Houston) is another name to note.
Key areas of focus for team at Bracewell LLP include disputes arising from JOAs and surface use agreements, royalty disputes and title disputes. In a standout matter, Mark Lewis, Kirk Morgan (both based in Washington DC) and others represented Enterprise Products in contested proceedings at FERC pertaining to the way in which oil pipelines conduct business with their marketing affiliates. Houston-based Andrew Zeve specializes in IP-related oil and gas matters, such as patents and trade secret disputes. The firm also has a highly varied client base, featuring exploration and production companies, suppliers and pipelines, as well as investors in the oil and gas industry. Also in Houston, firmwide chair of litigation Stephen Crain is a key contact; also recommended are Christopher Dodson, Bradley Benoit and Sean Gorman.
The energy and natural resources practice at Hogan Lovells US LLP is led by Denver-based energy regulatory and transaction specialist Scot Anderson. Besides acting for clients in royalty disputes and disputes arising from drilling contracts, the team also assists them with tort and contract claims. Strong regulatory expertise within the group ensures it can also handle contentious matters before FERC; arbitration proceedings are another key area of operation. Maria Wyckoff Boyce (Houston) is the name to note for energy-related complex commercial litigation and IP disputes.
International arbitration, construction-related litigation, regulatory litigation and enforcement proceedings are some key areas of activity for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP's energy litigation practice. Recent highlights include a team led by Jim Dragna (Los Angeles) and Bryan Killian (DC) acting for Anadarko Petroleum in six climate change lawsuits brought by municipalities and cities in California; the cases are currently on appeal at the Ninth Circuit. Elsewhere, Pittsburgh-based John Gisleson and others are representing Noble Energy in a statewide class action arising from the allegation that the client underpaid natural gas royalties to certain royalty owners, who are claiming millions of dollars in damages. Brad Fagg (DC), Michelle Pector (Houston) and Winstol Carter (Houston) are some key contacts. A number of internal promotions and additions have reinforced the team; of particular note is the arrival of Kenneth Polite in the Philadelphia office, who was former vice president and chief compliance officer at Entergy.
Reed Smith LLP
Nicolle Bagnell (Pittsburgh) and Craig Enochs (Houston) are the heads of the 32-partner energy and natural resources group at Reed Smith LLP. A large portion of the firm's contentious work for oil and gas clients involves royalty disputes, lease disputes and infrastructure-related construction disputes. DC-based Collette Honorable is noted for her experience as a former FERC commissioner; Kenneth Broughton (Houston) is a name to note for both single- and multi-jurisdictional trials and arbitration proceedings; Julie Hardin (Houston) is recommended for high-risk disputes and complex commercial litigation for oil and gas sector clients. Energy project construction specialist Ericsen Kimbel departed for Frost Brown Todd in September 2018.
Daniel Poynor, noted for his experience in representing pipelines before FERC and appellate courts, is the head of the nine-partner Washington DC-based oil and gas pipeline focused group at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, which is 'easy to work with'. The department has well-known clients such as Colonial Pipeline Company and Sunoco Pipeline, and does a significant amount of work for the Association of Oil Pipe Lines. Recent highlights include negotiating and finalizing a high-profile $162m settlement between Enbridge and the government arising from releases of crude oil from the client's pipelines in Michigan and Illinois in 2010; the 'seasoned and pragmatic' David Coburn led on this matter. In a matter spanning seven years and ending successfully in 2018, Poynor assisted Seaway Crude Pipeline Company with obtaining a FERC approval to switch to charging market-based rates; key contacts Steven Brose and Steven Reed were also involved in this work. Besides this, the firm is known for its success in cost-of-service rate proceedings. Cynthia Taub is 'very knowledgeable'.
Craig Stahl, who is based in The Woodlands, Texas, heads the five-partner oil and gas litigation practice at Haynes and Boone, L.L.P., for which recent highlights include Houston-based Michael Mazzone acting as lead counsel to Hess Corporation in an oil and gas lease dispute. Elsewhere, Stahl represents ConocoPhillips in an approximately $5m arbitration case concerning alleged breach of a service contract for LNG in North Dakota. The team also regularly works on royalty disputes and commercial litigation. Jeffrey Kuehnle (The Woodlands) is another name to note.
Following the merger of Hunton & Williams and Andrews Kurth Kenyon to form Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP in April 2018, the combined firm has 41 partners in its oil and gas industry group. Highlights included Stuart Hollimon (Houston) defending Encana Oil & Gas in a case concerning alleged underpayment of royalties, with the plaintiff claiming over $25m in damages; the case was settled on favorable terms. In addition to royalty disputes, the group also represents clients in rate cases and bet-the-company litigation, and prepares responses on their behalf when FERC issues a Notice of Inquiry. Phillips 66 and Texas Oil and Gas Association are some other noteworthy clients. Dallas-based partners Tab Urbantke and Myles Reynolds are highly recommended. Hollimon, Chuck Knauss (DC) and Deidre Duncan (DC) are the heads of the team.
McGuireWoods LLP's energy department has 'exceptional trial lawyers', with Ryan Frei and counsel Megan Haines (both based in Richmond) acting as the heads of team. Frei is known for representing oil and gas clients in complex commercial litigation cases, most of which involve contractual disputes or allegations of fraud. Haines' contentious work in this sector is supplemented by her strong knowledge of environmental regulation and municipal zoning issues. Jonathan Blank (Charlottesville) focuses specifically on natural gas litigation, working on disputes related to mineral rights, royalties and antitrust allegations; Thomas Farrell (Houston) has over 30 years of experience in handling complex commercial litigation and class action cases. Houston-based Yasser Madriz, who handles high-stakes litigation across multiple industries, joined the firm from Haynes and Boone, L.L.P. in August 2018.
Key areas of work for Porter Hedges LLP's litigation department include royalty disputes, title disputes, tort and insurance defense and commercial litigation. Houston-based Eugene Nettles is the head of the team. In an ongoing highlight, a group led by Nettles is acting for an oil exploration and production company operating in the Permian Basin in a royalty dispute in which the plaintiffs are seeking to recover alleged deductions for post-production costs exceeding $3m; the case raises novel questions about pricing differentials and adjustments at the point of sale. Apache Corporation and Shell Oil Company are some other noteworthy clients. International litigation and arbitration specialist Tom Bayko (Houston) is also highly recommended.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP has specialist experience in handling contentious work arising from the exploration and production process, pipeline issues and joint ventures. The energy sector disputes group is also capable of acting for clients in international arbitration. Noteworthy clients of the team include Enbridge Energy and Berry Petroleum. Highlights included DC-based partner Karl Stern and others defending the former CEO of Cobalt International Energy in a federal class action case involving allegations of violating federal securities laws in the context of Cobalt’s development of oil fields in Angola. Also recommended are Sanford Weisburst (New York), Kathleen Sullivan (New York) and David Orta (DC), who has 'strong leadership skills'. Trial lawyer Christopher Porter joined the Houston office from Yetter Coleman LLP in June 2018. The team is noted for its 'strategic thinking, robust knowledge and depth of experience'.
Houston-based boutique firm Reynolds Frizzell LLP is well known for its expertise in complex commercial litigation, representing both plaintiffs and defendants. Both American and international oil and gas entities feature in the firm's impressive client list, which includes the likes of BHP, TransOcean and Marathon Oil. Highlights included Frizzell, Brandon Allen and others serving as lead counsel to Energy Transfer Partners in a lawsuit brought by Enterprise Texas Pipeline alleging the breach of a pipeline agreement. Despite seeking damages of $400m, the plaintiff was only awarded less than 1% of its claims and the case was dismissed in 2018. Additionally, a team led by Chris Reynolds and Michael Oldham filed a high-value lawsuit on behalf of Magellan Midstream Partners; the dispute was settled within four months. Other names to note include Jeremy Doyle, Chris Hogan and Nathan Smith. Jean Frizzell is another key contact. James Schuelke was made up to partner.
Energy litigators at Winston & Strawn LLP regularly handle administrative litigation before FERC, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Recent highlights include a group led by Chicago-based partner Tim Carey representing BP in a putative class action lawsuit; the plaintiffs allege that BP manipulated Brent North Sea Crude futures and derivatives traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange and the InterContinental Exchange from 2002 to 2013. Other noteworthy clients include Pacific Drilling, Weatherford International and NGL Energy Partners. The team welcomed Hugh Tanner and Denise Scofield from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in February 2018; Tanner was chair of the oil and gas group at his previous firm and occupies the same position at his new firm. In the same month, Michael Loesch and Michael Yuffee joined the DC office from Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP. Joseph Karp (San Francisco) is another key contact.