The year ended with oil prices in Louisiana being around the $60 per barrel mark, which was a high point for prices within the past several years. However, the growth is not sustained enough to clearly say that significant drilling for oil will start up in the state this year. A glut of cheaper shale-derived products could flood into the market causing another reduction in prices.
Representatives of the gas and oil industry in Louisiana are actively complaining that the state has become a haven for litigation due to its image of welcoming such lawsuits against oil and gas companies. The critics of the state's litigation system say that oil and gas law cases have clogged the state's courts and flattened the growth of the industry locally. They pin the blame on the governor, who they say is actively promoting and even soliciting such litigation.
Louisiana has had its share of litigation in the federal courts involving so-called patent trolls. Such companies collect patents and sue other companies for violating the patents that they hold. This has been a lucrative business but one that has been criticized by many industries and by the courts. A recent case has reached the U.S. Supreme Court that intersects the patent troll issue with oil & gas law.
Legal disputes between state and federal governments, and between private businesses and government bodies, can be triggered or exacerbated when the executive branch changes hands. That dynamic has brought oil & gas law to the forefront of the business litigation stage since the recent switch in occupancy from one party to the other in the White House. Under the prior administration, tough emission regulations regarding the discharge of methane were passed. Louisiana and other oil and gas producing states challenged the strict emissions rules in litigation that was still active and pending when the new administration took office.
Many Louisiana readers are aware that the state's first coastal lawsuit was filed in 2013 and has made its way through the appellate process. That oil and gas lawsuit was dismissed at the lower level. In a recent ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the lower court's decision.
In what may be something of an interesting twist in governmental policy, one state joined petroleum groups and county governments in an environmental case being fought out against an environmental protection organization. The lawsuit is the attempt of the environmental organization, WildEarth, to challenge the validity of 397 oil/gas leases involving 379,950 acres of federal lands. The defendant, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is a signatory with oil & gas law interests on the leases. The dispute is similar to the types of litigation conflicts that also occur in Louisiana.
Louisiana has many industries that provide income and business opportunities. One of them is the oil and gas industry. Transactions involving oil & gas law are unique and require the appropriate body of knowledge in order to ensure that they are done properly.
Companies in Louisiana and other states that engage in oil and gas exploration may collaborate on joint ventures or other types of business relationships for mutual profit. One situation like that turned into extended litigation regarding an oil & gas law dispute that began over 10 years ago. The out-of-state case is finally coming to a head as the state court judge recently ordered the sides to start picking a jury.
The oil and gas industry in Louisiana is seemingly always embroiled in litigation involving environmental issues that are being perpetually asserted and disputed. The situation in recent decades has intensified due to the aggressive participation of state and federal governmental interests. The oil & gas law battle garnering the most attention recently is the flap between the state's governor and its attorney general.
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.