The recent rise in royalty class action lawsuits brought by the plaintiffs’ bar, that generally coincides with the ebb in crude oil prices, is a growing risk for oil and gas companies. Class action certifications in royalty lawsuits were less common before the COVID-19 pandemic, but since 2019 there has been an uptick in royalty

McGuireWoods’ multidisciplinary oil and gas sector team published legal insights for companies operating in the oil and gas industry. This “Oil & Gas Year in Review 2023” summarizes key developments and practice points over the past year, from pivotal court decisions to proactive guidance for corporate counsel, investors and project stakeholders.Continue Reading McGuireWoods Oil & Gas Year in Review 2023

On Sept. 29, 2023, the Supreme Court of Texas announced it would review a lower court’s reversal of two winter storm Uri orders by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), which date back to 2021. On Jan. 30, 2024, the Texas Supreme Court held oral arguments to determine if the PUCT had authority to

In February 2021, Winter Storm Uri hit Texas, resulting in severe electricity blackouts throughout the state. Commercial and industrial as well as residential retail customers across Texas sued hundreds of entities involved in the Texas electricity market for damages sustained due to the resulting electrical outages, including wholesale power generators. On Dec. 14, 2023, the

Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions letting federal courts hear constitutional challenges to enforcement proceedings at federal agencies opened the door to similar challenges to in-house enforcement proceedings at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), McGuireWoods Washington, D.C., partner Todd Mullins and associate Emily Song wrote in Law360.Continue Reading High Court Opens Door to Suits Against FERC, McGuireWoods Attorneys Write in Law360

On March 17, 2023, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District issued an opinion reversing two winter storm Uri orders by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) that had raised power prices in ERCOT to $9,000/MWh. ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, manages the electric grid for most, but not all, of Texas and serves approximately 26 million customers.

The decision by the Court of Appeals in Luminant Energy Company LLC v. Public Utility Commission of Texas, No. 03-21-00098-CV, has the potential to affect certain transactions made under the PUCT’s orders. The Court of Appeals not only reversed the PUCT’s orders but remanded them for further proceedings. Should the Court of Appeals’ opinion be upheld, it is unclear how the PUCT will resolve the pricing issues, but it would likely need to hold proceedings to address them. The opinion also raised questions about the authority of the PUCT to issue price caps for Texas’ energy market. Continue Reading PUCT Winter Storm Uri Orders Reversed and Remanded by Texas Court of Appeals

On Feb. 15, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas held that the force majeure provision contained in the parties’ contract applied to excuse performance even if the event — Winter Storm Uri — did not render performance impossible.

In MIECO LLC v. Pioneer Natural Resources USA, Inc., 2023 WL 2064723, the parties had entered into an agreement in which MIECO (Buyer) would purchase 20,000 million British thermal units of natural gas from Pioneer (Seller) each day from Nov. 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021. But from Feb. 14, 2021, to Feb. 19, 2021, Pioneer failed to deliver the full amount of the contracted natural gas due to Winter Strom Uri. On Feb. 16, 2021, Pioneer sent MIECO a notice of force majeure.Continue Reading Winter Storm Uri Qualifies as Force Majeure, Even When Performance Was Not “Impossible”

While utility companies and critical infrastructure companies have focused on digital sabotage and cybersecurity over the past few years, such companies must remain cognizant about continued risks of physical sabotage.Continue Reading Physical Sabotage Remains A Substantial Risk to Utility Companies and Other Companies Providing Critical Infrastructure

On July 8, 2022, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a notice of regulatory enforcement discretion for particular gathering lines. Gathering lines are those pipelines that transport gas from a current production facility to a transmission line or main (see 49 C.F.R. § 192.3). The notice specifically applies to existing Type C gas gathering pipelines with an outer diameter greater than or equal to 8.625 inches, but less than or equal to 12.75 inches. It also applies only to violations of safety requirements identified in 49 C.F.R. § 192.9 until May 17, 2024.
Continue Reading PHMSA Issues Notice of Limited Enforcement Discretion for Some Gas Gathering Pipelines