Anadarko Can Proceed With Horizontal Drilling Plan

The San Antonio Court of Appeals again rejected Lightning Oil Co.’s argument that it would suffer irreparable harm if Anadarko Petroleum Corp. drilled horizontally through Lightning’s Eagle Ford Shale mineral estate to reach Anadarko-owned oil and gas underlying adjacent property.

Lightning sued Anadarko for trespass and tortious interference with contract. Lightning then sought a temporary injunction barring Anadarko from drilling through Lightning’s mineral estate to reach Anadarko’s own mineral estate. The trial judge denied the request, finding that, although Anadarko may be trespassing into Lightning’s mineral rights, there was no evidence of “interference” with Lightning’s mineral interests.

On October 29, 2014, the Fourth Court of Appeals agreed, finding that the evidence only shows the potential for injury to Lightning’s mineral interests. Because a potential harm falls short of Lightning’s burden to prove a “probable, imminent, and irreparable injury,” the court affirmed the trial court’s order denying Lightning’s application for temporary injunction.

On January 15, 2015, the Fourth Court of Appeals denied separate motions for rehearing and en banc reconsideration of its October decision. Meanwhile, the trial court has granted summary judgment in favor of Anadarko, which Lightning is appealing.

Lightning Oil is significant for those who deal with offsite drill pads. Absent specific proof of imminent harm, it may be difficult to stop a planned drilling operation while a case is pending. That said, the potential liability for these operations remains to be seen.

Lightning Oil Co. v. Anadarko E&P Onshore LLC, 04-14-00152-CV (Tex. App.—San Antonio Oct. 29, 2014, reh’g denied Jan. 15, 2015).

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