“Everything’s not going to go perfect.

You’re going to have some losses that you’re going to have to bounce back from

and some things that are unforeseen that you’ll have to deal with.”

Tony Dungy

This quote and Dungy’s experience encapsulates what it must be to try and prepare for what could happen to the surface land when oil and gas operations commence. Dungy, of course, won two Super Bowls as a coach, but also had success as a defensive back. In fact, in 1977, playing Safety for the Pittsburg Steelers, Dungy had key interception in a game against the Houston Oilers. The Oilers responded with great defense of their own, knocking out both starting quarterback Terry Bradshaw, and also back up Mike Kruczek. Since Dungy was the emergency back up, he stepped in. As a result Dungy became the only player in NFL history to have intercepted a pass on defense and throw an interception of his own on offense. Dungy had been well prepared to face the Oilers offense, but he was not as ready for the unintended consequence of a defensive struggle.
Environmental and Pollution Claims
“Everything’s not going to go perfect” applies to oil and gas operations. The United States Government agency that is tasked with oversight of federal pollution laws is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On the state level, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) is responsible for the adherence to environmental laws as they pertain to oil and gas.  When you hire an attorney to represent your oil and gas pollution case, you need someone who has experience working with each of these agencies – with the relationships, experience, and know how to walk you through the process with confidence.
Surface Damage
In order to protect Oklahoma’s agricultural and energy industries, the Surface Damage Act was created. The act takes a proactive approach to damages to the surface of the land from which the oil and gas is being drilled. Oil and gas companies are to use what’s called “good faith” negotiations in order to pay the surface landowner for the damage that will likely occur to the property through operations.  If successful negotiations are not reached, an appraisal can be provided to help the determination.
The potential and likely surface damages are measured in a seemingly simple process. The future fair market value of the property after oil and gas operations are completed is projected. That reduced number is subtracted from the current fair market value of that tract of land. The owners of the surface land are to be paid the difference.  This gets complicated when all the variables are added in to the equation.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court will consider several factors to calculate damages. Some of those factors include:

  • The drilling location itself
  • The value of the land used
  • Foreseeable side effects from the operations that could inhibit particular use of the property at a later time
  • Inconvenience to the owner caused by the operations and use of the land
  • Whether the damages are temporary or permanent
  • Physical changes that could occur in the condition of the tract of land
  • The destruction of any native grass or crops caused by drilling operations

Oklahoma City oil and gas law attorney, Robert R. Robles, offers a unique perspective to those seeking counsel to parties on either side of a surface damage and pollution claim. With 30-plus years of trial experience and a depth of understanding of oil and gas-relate issues, we can set you up with the right strategy to pursue the best possible outcome for surface or subsurface land owners. With particular practical knowledge about Oklahoma’s energy laws and regulations, there’s no case too small or too large for our team.
With Oklahoma’s rigid time limitations for filing bringing suit in such cases it’s best to get the conversation started right now. Don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 405-232-7980 for a free consultation.