Energy Litigation

“The group may be smaller than some of its competitors, but this has no bearing on the size or complexity of the energy disputes it takes on.”  (Chambers USA, 2008)

Our trial lawyers have preeminent energy and oil & gas industry experience.  Our experience includes disputes and arbitrations involving domestic and international issues.  Be it contract, fraud, or construction disputes; False Claims Act (FCA) suits; defense of class actions; or royalty matters, we routinely work on industry-leading cases for a broad base of energy clients.

Representative clients include: Enterprise Products, Occidental Petroleum, Kinder Morgan, Pioneer Natural Resources, Chevron Corporation, ExxonMobil Corporation, Sanchez Energy Corporation, SM Energy, as well as many smaller companies in the energy sector.

Occidental Energy Marketing
We represented Occidental Energy Marketing, Inc. and Oxy Ingleside LPG Pipeline, LLC (Oxy) against NuStar Logistics, LP (NuStar) in a dispute involving four contracts under which NuStar promised to refurbish and reverse flow on an existing pipeline so it could be used to transport liquified propane gas to a new export facility Oxy was building at Ingleside, Texas in exchange for a long-term “ship or pay” commitment from Oxy. NuStar’s pipeline ruptured during the commissioning phase and was unable to transport propane in the required contract volumes as of the mandatory start-up deadline, so Oxy terminated the contracts and filed a declaratory judgment action seeking judicial confirmation that its termination was lawful, as well as damages for Oxy’s propane that was lost as a result of the ruptures. NuStar countersued to enforce the contracts, seeking more than $150 million in damages.

After the conclusion of a 5-week bench trial (November 2017), the parties entered into a confidential settlement, pursuant to which the Parties’ contractual obligations were deemed to be terminated as of July 7, 2015.

SourceGas Distribution LLC
Following a complex five-week trial, a Houston jury returned a verdict for client SourceGas Distribution LLC (SourceGas) against Noble Energy, Inc (Noble).  The jury determined that Noble breached its Gas Purchase Agreement (GPA) with SourceGas by selling SourceGas natural gas at above-market prices that SourceGas was not obligated to purchase under the GPA.  The Honorable Patricia J. Kerrigan submitted the question of contract interpretation to the jury.  In addition to a claim for damages, the contract dispute involved tens of millions of dollars worth of impact on future performance under the contract.  On November 17, 2011, the jury determined that SourceGas’s contract interpretation was correct, found that Noble breached the GPA, and awarded damages of approximately $4.58 million.  The jury also rejected Noble’s counterclaims for breach of contract against SourceGas, under which Noble sought approximately $1.5 million in damages.  On April 24, 2012, the court entered final judgment in favor of SourceGas for over $6 million, including attorneys’ fees.

We represented Venoco, Inc., a mid-size oil and gas company based in Colorado, in a contract dispute with Denbury Onshore, LLC, a subsidiary of Denbury Resources, Inc., regarding Venoco’s reversionary interest in a Texas oilfield, wherein the parties disputed the meaning of several terms that affected when “payout” would occur.  After a week-long arbitration hearing before a three-member panel, we obtained a unanimous award in favor of Venoco with respect to all three contractual interpretation declarations sought.  Venoco was also awarded most of its attorneys’ fees, costs, and expert fees in a discretionary decision by the panel.  The present-day value of the award to the client is estimated to be in the $100 million range.  Denbury moved to vacate the award in Harris County District Court.  On February 11, 2015, the court denied Denbury’s motion to vacate and confirmed the award.

SM Energy
We represented SM Energy Company, Potato Creek LLC, Open Flow Gas Supply Corporation, and SJ Exploration LLC in an action against Endeavour Operating Corporation.  The case arose from Endeavour Operating Corporation’s breach of two purchase and sale agreements to purchase our clients’ interests in oil and gas leases, a pipeline, and related facilities in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania for a total purchase price of $110 million.  After winning a significant partial summary judgment, the case settled shortly before trial for a total value of $19.25M to our clients.

Nevada Congeneration Associates #2 (Chevron/Dynegy)
We represented Nevada Congeneration Associates #2 (NCA #2), a joint venture co-owned by Chevron and Dynegy, in defense of an arbitration brought by Nevada Power Company (NPC).  NCA #2 developed a qualified facility to produce power for the Las Vegas area, which NPC purchased under the terms of a 30-year power purchase agreement.  The dispute involved the proper interpretation of certain provisions of the agreement, including a rebate forecast by NPC to be approximately $320 million. The arbitrator ruled in favor of our client, rejecting entirely NPC’s claim.

We represented Defendants Frontera Resources Georgia Corporation and Frontera Resources Corporation in an international arbitration involving a significant oil and gas exploration lease in the Republic of Georgia.  Claimants were GAC Energy Corporation and GAC International.  The arbitrator ruled in Frontera’s favor, rejecting GAC’s claims for $19 million in restitution.

We achieved a summary judgment win for ConocoPhillips in defense of an $800 million breach of contract and fraud matter brought by West Texas Gas involving the sale of gas processing facilities and pipelines.

Unocal Corporation
We successfully resolved a breach of contract and fraud case for Unocal involving nine oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico.  Damage counterclaims were in excess of $350 million.  Gibbs & Bruns took over representation of Unocal a few months before trial and conducted the majority of discovery and all expert discovery during that time.  We obtained dismissal of all of Defendant’s claims against Unocal on summary judgment a few weeks before trial.