Articles Posted in Energy, Oil & Gas Law

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The South Dakota Department of Revenue assessed Northern Border Pipeline Company, the operator of an interstate pipeline that provides transportation services to natural gas owners who desire to ship their gas, for use tax on the value of the shippers’ gas that the shippers allowed Northern Border to burn as fuel in compressors that moved the gas through the pipeline. An administrative law judge affirmed the assessment. The circuit court reversed, holding that Northern Border’s burning of the shippers’ gas was exempt from use tax under a tax exemption. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Northern Border did not own the gas, use tax may not be imposed under this Court’s precedents. View "N. Border Pipeline Co. v. S.D. Dep’t of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Linda Golden owned a fifty percent mineral interest that was within a “spacing unit” in which Luff Exploration Company desired to drill for oil. Golden declined Luff’s offer to lease her mineral interest or participate with Luff in the cost of the drilling. After Luff decided to proceed with drilling, it filed a petition with the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment (Board) seeking to “compulsory pool” the mineral interests in the spacing unit and seeking “risk compensation” from Golden. The Board issued a compulsory pooling order and found that Golden should pay 100 percent risk compensation. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board failed to comply with the plain language of S.D. Codified Laws 45-9-32 by granting a pooling order that contained no provision specifying a time and manner for Golden to elect to participate in the well by paying her proportionate share of the cost of drilling, equipping, and operating the well. View "In re Petition of Luff Exploration Co." on Justia Law

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In 1967, Severt Kvalheim conveyed certain real property to Gordon Holsti by warranty deed. Kvalheim reserved fifty percent of the mineral rights for himself. That same year, Kvalheim executed a will devising to each of his heirs a one-eighth interest in his estate. Kvalheim died in 1969. In 2007, Gordon Holsti conveyed the surface estate to his sons (the Holstis). Believing Kvalheim’s mineral interest had lapsed and been abandoned because of nonuse, the Holstis published a notice of lapse of mineral interest in the official county newspaper. When no one filed a statement of claim asserting ownership of the mineral interest severed from the property, the Holstis brought a quiet title action. The circuit court ruled that the Holstis were the owners of the entire mineral interest, concluding (1) Kvalheim’s mineral interest had been abandoned under section S.D. Codified Laws 43-30A-2, -3; and (2) the Holstis gave proper notice of the lapse of the mineral interest even though they did not serve notice of the lapse on Kvalheim’s heirs. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the mineral interests were not abandoned under section 43-30A-2. Remanded. View "Holsti v. Kimber" on Justia Law

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Magellan Pipeline Company, LP appealed a sales tax assessment levied by the state Department of Revenue and Regulation on its additive injection and equipment calibration services. The Hearing Examiner, Department Secretary and trial court all found Magellan's services were non-exempt from tax. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that under the plain language of the applicable statute, Magellan's services were exempt from sales tax. View "Magellan Pipeline Co v. Dept. of Revenue & Regulation" on Justia Law

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Defendant-Appellant James Brown owned interests in several businesses. In late 2004, he acquired and redesigned two convenience stores on opposite sides of Exit 2 on Interstate 29 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. Plaintiff-Appellee Stern Oil, a fuel distributor for Exxon Mobil Corporation, contacted Brown while he was remodeling the properties. Although Brown was negotiating with another fuel distributor, he ultimately elected to do business with Stern Oil. When Brown notified Stern Oil that he would no longer purchase its fuel, Stern Oil initiated this breach of contract action. Brown filed a counterclaim, alleging fraudulent inducement. Stern Oil argued that Brown contracted to purchase a minimum amount of fuel for a ten-year period. The circuit court granted Stern Oil's motion for summary judgment on both the breach of contract claim and on Brown's counterclaim, but the issue of damages proceeded to trial. After trial, the circuit court awarded Stern Oil eight years of lost profits. Brown appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's grant of summary judgment. Both Brown's fraudulent inducement counterclaim and Stern Oil's breach of contract claim involved disputed material facts. Therefore, the Court concluded the circuit court erred in granting Stern Oil summary judgment. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Stern Oil Co. v. Brown" on Justia Law

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Clarkson and Company owned and leased land on which Continental Resources conducted oil and gas exploration activities. Continental agreed to pay Clarkson for use of and damage to Clarkson's property. Clarkson sued Continental, seeking declaratory relief to clarify the terms of the payment agreement Continental and Clarkson made. The trial court granted judgment to Clarkson for $164,102. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding, inter alia, that (1) Clarkson's claim was not barred by laches; (2) the agreement called for annual escalation of road use payments; (3) roads on land that Clarkson leased in 1981 and subsequently purchased were subject to the road use payment provision of the agreement; and (4) Clarkson was not entitled to a road use payment for a portion of existing road that Continental used to construct a new road. View "Clarkson & Co. v. Continental Res., Inc." on Justia Law