by Stephanie Moser Goins
On March 26, 2020, a 5.0 magnitude earthquake was recorded in West Texas. Centered approximately 27 miles from the city of Mentone, the activity was located about 3 miles deep, was felt as far as El Paso, and is now the largest recorded earthquake in West Texas. The Mentone area recorded an additional 5 smaller earthquakes in the 4 days prior to the 5.0 being felt. As of the date of this writing, the West Texas area recorded 10 earthquakes over the past week and 28 over the last 30 days, all registering between four to eight (4 to 8) km deep.1
The rise of COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) has thrust us into unprecedented times in just about every aspect of life. Following recommendations by the CDC, the White House, and most medical experts, more people are staying home, and businesses are closing. As the stock market and oil prices continue to plunge, the world is only left with unanswered questions as to what is to come.
The Trump administration has recently repealed the 2015 Clean Water Rule and replaced it with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, effective December 23, 2019. In doing so, the new rule has changed certain aspects of the 1972 Clean Water Act (“CWA”). When Congress passed the CWA, it established that all “waters of the United States” or “WOTUS” would be under federal protection, with WOTUS commonly been defined or understood to be “navigable waters”1 in the United States of America. However, there has historically been various levels of debate and uncertainty as to what waters are truly protected under the CWA.
Mineral estates in Oklahoma are generally subject to the same collection of laws governing real property as surface estates. For example, 84 O.S. § 213 governs the descent and distribution of property of estates located within the State of Oklahoma, including mineral interests. Laws governing real property and succession typically go hand-in-hand and are ideally yoked to accomplish one thing: marketable title.
Under Oklahoma’s Statute of Frauds at 15 O.S. §136, certain types of contracts, including contracts involving conveyances of real property or modifications thereof, require that the terms of the transaction be memorialized in writing and signed by the party to be charged, or the party against whom specific performance is sought. Cloud v. Winn, 303 P.2d 305, 308 (Okla. 1956). Because a lease of mineral interests is a conveyance of real property, an oil and gas lease must be in writing. Further, an instrument affecting rights in real estate must be filed in accordance with the recording requirements of Title 16 of the Oklahoma statutes to be valid as against third persons. See Amarex Inc. v. El Paso Natural Gas Co., 1987 OK 48 ¶ 14, 772 P. 2d 905, 908.
As October closed out, the price of natural gas posted triple-consecutive sessions of gains, as cooler-than-usual weather is expected throughout the country.
Despite wavering trends in the oil and gas industry, rig data provider Enverus, formerly Drilling Info, has reported oil and gas rig counts increasing by two this week. The US oil and gas rig count currently stands at 902 this week, amid a downcast earnings season, characterized by uncertainty across many fronts.
Ball Morse Lowe attorney Kimberly Wurtz has been appointed to serve as part of the Oklahoma delegation for the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC). Ken Wagner, the Official Representative to the IOGCC for the State of Oklahoma, announced the Governor of Oklahoma’s appointment of Attorney Wurtz, following her presentations on produced water research at this year’s annual meetings.