Mayhall Fondren Blaize

Oil & gas law litigation gearing up for a showdown in Louisiana

There is currently a litigation war brewing between state authorities in Louisiana and the oil and gas industry. The battle lines are drawn over the new governor's apparent contention that oil and gas contractors are responsible for the land subsistence problems in the southern part of the state. Industry supporters are criticizing the governor, saying that he has been favoring his trial lawyer cronies with lucrative contingent fee contracts designed to make them wealthy at the expense of the industry. Oil & gas law litigation appears certain, but a resolution in at least some of the cases may yet be possible. 

This potential smoking gun was fueled by the attorney general of the state last when he refused to approve the contracts because of various cited issues with contingent fee rules and procedures. It should be mentioned that the attorney general would normally be displaced in the litigation in each district by the attorney supported by the governor. That fact may be giving the attorney general more fuel to his fodder, and making the battle even more intense.

The problem is that the entire Delta region, built upon a system of intricate levees, is designed to prevent periodic flooding. However, the natural flooding provided for by Mother Nature is needed to engage the natural silting processes, according to industry spokespersons. Thus, the lack of flooding is primarily responsible for the subsiding problem, those sources argue. They also assert that the new governor's attack on oil industry companies will unravel the progress toward stimulating business that was made by the former governor.

The future of the litigation battles on this related collection of issues in Louisiana is undetermined right now. If some as yet unidentified peacemakers can intervene to help steer a more objective course toward compromise, the situation may be defused. Unfortunately, oil & gas law litigation does not normally trend in that direction. This is especially true when a larger mixture of political undercurrents is present and apparently obstructing the potential for an amicable resolution.

Source: forbes.com, "Edwards Takes Louisiana Government Back In Time", David Blackmon, Sept. 12, 2016

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