“Market price” of oil and gas does not include hedging

A Louisiana mineral lease provided that the lessee would pay the lessor “one-eighth (1/8) of the market value at the mouth of the well of the gas so sold . . . .”  Cimarex Energy v. Chastant, No. 13-30049 (Aug. 2, 2013, unpublished).  The lessor claimed that the payment obligations extended to the benefits of a hedging program operated by the lessee/producer.  The Fifth Circuit agreed with the district court that it did not: “[T]he mineral lease between Cimarex and Chastant does not require Cimarex to pay royalties on amounts generated through its separate financial activities.  The Court distinguished a case about royalties on take-or-pay payments, noting: “Take-or-pay is, for these purposes, an alternative to actual production, or effectively a minimum production for purposes of rights under the lease.  Hedging transactions do not serve that purpose.  They are supplements to production, not substitutes.”

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