How to space oil wells

TDX Energy v. Chesapeake Operating begins with an entertaining – and accurate – summary of the challenge presented by oil and gas overproduction. Brought forward into today’s market and the parties’ dispute, at issue was a Louisiana statute, under which an operator can forfeit the right to deduct drilling costs on an “unleased oil and gas interest” – defined as one “upon which the operator or producer has no valid oil, gas, or mineral lease. (Here, the relevant interests were leased to TDX but not the operator, Chesapeake.) The Fifth Circuit elected to follow a Lousiana intermediate court opinion that it found to be consistent with the applicable canons of interpretation, and concluded that “The most natural reading of [the two relevant sections together] is that operators forfeit their right to contribution when they fail to send timely reports to lessees with oil and gas interests in lands upon which the operator has no lease . . . .” 857 F.3d 253 (5th Cir. 2017).

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