Oil and Gas Blog

Oil and gas development in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, the Marcellus Play, Utica play, or anywhere can present unique and complex issues that can be intimidating and challenging. It can produce lawsuits, litigation, negotiations and dispute resolution procedures. At Pennsylvania based Houston Harbaugh, P.C., our Oil and Gas Practice is dedicated to protecting the interests of landowners and royalty owners. From new lease negotiations to title disputes, to royalty litigation, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia – Marcellus shale play, Utica shale play and elsewhere – we can help. Whether you have two acres in Washington County or 5,000 acres in Lycoming County, our dedication and commitment remains the same.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Interprets Forfeiture Clause in Oil and Gas Lease

In McCausland v. Wagner, the Pennsylvania Superior Court was confronted with the question of whether the lessor under an oil and gas lease was entitled to terminate the...
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Zoning Issues for a Well Pad Site in Post-Robinson Times

In Gorsline, et al. v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfield Township et al., No. 14-000130 (Lycoming Co. C.P., August 29, 2014), certain individuals appealed the decision of the...
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Subsurface Mining Rights Revisited

In Commonwealth v. Seneca Resources Corporation, 2014 LEXIS 608 (Pa. Commw. Ct., October 6, 2014), the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania revisited the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission’s (“Commission”) complaint that alleged...
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Coronavirus, Chinese LNG Imports & Force Majeure: A Canary in a Coal Mine?

Pressure continues to mount on the Chinese economy as fears of the coronavirus mount. Though the Chinese government has taken steps to halt the spread of the virus,...
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Energy Independence? Current Events May Prove Test Case

“Energy Independence” has been frequently heard in recent years as a tag-line to marshal public support for shale drilling. But, is there a connection between shale drilling and...
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Does a Well Passing Horizontally Under A Property Trigger A “Payment in Lieu of Free Gas” Clause? The Pennsylvania Superior Court Says “No”.

In a recent ruling in Mitch v. XTO Energy, Inc. the Pennsylvania Superior Court has reasoned that a well drilled horizontally below a landowner’s property does not trigger the “free...
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The New Royalty Bill is Good for Pennsylvania Landowners

On August 5, 2021, Rep. Eric Davanzo (R-Westmorland County) introduced HB 1763. The bill seeks to clarify Pennsylvania oil and gas law by defining the term “royalty”. It...
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Pennsylvania Superior Court Rules that Oil and Gas Rights Did Not Transfer to Buyer

The question of whether a sale of real estate includes the underlying gas rights remains a troubling issue for some Pennsylvania landowners. For example, let’s assume your family...
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What Is the Pennsylvania One Call System?

April is National Safe Digging Month, reminding all contractors and homeowners to call 811 at least three business days before starting a digging project to ensure that all...
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Federal Appeals Court Rules That Driller Must Establish Marketability of Each Gas Product Under Market Enhancement Clause

Many Pennsylvania oil and gas leases have what is commonly known as a “market enhancement” royalty clause (“MEC”).  These MEC leases typically prohibit the deduction of any post-production...
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What the Hedge? - The Impact of Price Hedging on Landowner Production Royalties

There is no way to avoid it. It seems like everything costs more now than it did last week, last month and last year. Energy is one area...
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Market Enhancement Clauses in Pennsylvania After Dressler Family, LP v. PennEnergy Resources, LLC

Many Pennsylvania landowners have leases with “market enhancement” royalty clauses. These clauses typically prohibit the deduction of any post-production costs that are incurred transforming the gas into marketable form....
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Is Deducting Fuel Costs Authorized by Your Lease?

Deducting fuel costs from landowner royalties continues to be an ongoing and widespread practice. Not only are landowners denied a royalty on the fuel gas volume, but they...
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Is the Value of Your Gas Really Being Enhanced?

Let’s assume you own 115 acres in Greene County, Pennsylvania.  In 2017, you signed an oil and gas lease with ABC Exploration, Inc.  During the negotiations, you agreed...
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Who Can Grant Gas Storage Rights?

Let’s assume you own a 95 acre farm in Tioga County.  Your family has owned the farm since the early 1900’s.  However, in 1961, your grandfather severed the...
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Pennsylvania Superior Court Rules that Royalty Clause Referencing Both ‘Gross Proceeds’ and ‘At the Well’ Was Ambiguous

Let’s assume that you own 125 acres in Tioga County.  In 2017, you negotiate a new oil and gas lease with XYZ Drilling.  During the negotiations, you insist...
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Kentucky Federal Court Fumbles Lease Expiration Claim

Let’s assume you own a 110 acre farm in Washington County. The farm is subject to an oil and gas lease which was signed by your grandfather in...
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Are Your Royalties Going Up In Flames?

Let’s assume you own 114 acres in Tioga County Pennsylvania. In 2012, you signed an oil and gas lease with XYZ Drilling. Two years later they drill and...
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Texas Supreme Court Issues Troubling Decision in Royalty Dispute

The practice of deducting post-production costs from landowner royalties remains a controversial and contentious issue here in Pennsylvania. Many landowners sought to insulate their royalties from such deductions...
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Texas Federal Court Rules No Royalty Due on Gas Used to Fuel Off-Lease Operations

The processing of natural gas and natural gas liquids requires a constant and reliable energy source. Critical operations such as compression, dehydration and fractionation cannot be conducted unless...
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Federal District Court in Pittsburgh Rules That 1897 Deed Did Not Grant a Non-Participating Royalty Interest

The calculation of production royalties and the deduction of post-production costs is a hot topic for landowners across Pennsylvania.  But there is another frustrating and often confusing royalty-related...
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The Net-Back Method Does Not Result In Better Pricing to Justify Deductions Under Market Enhancement Clauses

Many oil and gas leases in Pennsylvania contain a royalty clause known as a “market enhancement” clause. These clauses generally prohibit deductions unless the driller can demonstrate certain...
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Is Your Driller Really Enhancing the Value of Your Gas?

Many Pennsylvania oil and gas leases have what is commonly known as a “market enhancement” royalty clause. These clauses typically prohibit the deduction of any post-production costs that...
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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Issues Confusing and Troubling Decision for Landowners

In 2019, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued a landmark decision in the SLT Holdings, LLC v. Mitch-Well Energy Inc, 217 A. 3d 1258 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2019) matter....
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Federal District Court Injects Confusion into Definition of Gross Royalty Under Pennsylvania Law

As the Marcellus Shale development enters its seventeenth year, drillers are becoming more creative and aggressive in their effort to avoid lease language that was intended to prohibit...
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Pore Space: The Next Leasing Frontier for Pennsylvania Landowners?

Let’s assume you own a 135 acre farm in Washington County.  In 1976, your grandfather signed an oil and gas lease with ABC Oil.  Several years later, ABC...
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Ohio Appellate Court Issues Troubling Decision for Landowners and Drillers

Joint ownership of oil and gas rights is fairly routine here in Pennsylvania.  But what happens when one co-tenant unilaterally signs an oil and gas lease without informing...
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Are February 2021 Production Royalty Payments Leaving you Out in the Cold?

On March 8, 2021, the Pennsylvania Attorney General announced a settlement of the lawsuit filed against Chesapeake Energy Corporation that challenged several of Chesapeake’s business practices. One of...
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Is Your Driller Trying to Re-Write History?

Time travel.  The idea of traveling back in time has been a fascinating part of popular culture for over a hundred years. From H.G. Wells’ classic novella The...
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Texas Supreme Court Rules That Gross Royalty Clause Prohibits Driller From Deducting Post-Production Costs

As the Marcellus Shale development enters its seventeenth year, drillers are becoming more creative and aggressive in their effort to avoid express lease language that was drafted to...
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Historic Cold May Provide Window Into “Market Enhancement” Under Gas Leases

Many landowners in Pennsylvania signed oil and gas leases with “market enhancement” clauses. These clauses typically contain language that prohibits a driller from deducting post-production costs unless the...
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Texas Appellate Court Rules that Lease Terminated Due to Twelve Months of Non-Production

The modern producing gas well is a sophisticated and complex piece of equipment. The basic well head itself consists of several meters, valves and other components, each of...
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Hordis v. Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation: Landowner Challenges Whether Driller Can Ignore Pooling Clause and Simply Rely on Act 85

Oil and gas law is replete with unique terms and concepts. Perhaps one of the most confusing and complex areas of oil and gas law is the concept...
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Why Is The Driller Deducting Post-Production Costs My Lease Doesn’t Allow? Kilmer V. Elexco Land Services: A Decade Later

You own a 175 acre farm in Washington County. In 2014, you signed an oil and gas lease with XYZ Gas Company. The royalty clause, which you specifically...
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Is Your Property At Risk If The Driller Or Pipeline Company Doesn’t Pay Its Contractors?

A great deal of infrastructure is needed to move oil and gas from their reservoirs thousands of feet below the ground to the places where these hydrocarbons are...
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Pennsylvania Superior Court Rules That Payment Of Delay Rentals Alone Cannot Maintain A Lease Beyond Primary Term

Your family owns a 87 acre farm in Tioga County. Back in 1979, your grandfather signed a lease with ABC Oil Co with a customary primary term of...
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Houston Harbaugh, P.c Files “amicus Curiae Brief’ On Behalf Of The Pennsylvania Chapter Of The National Association Of Royalty Owners In Briggs, Et Al V. Southwestern Energy (63 Map 2018)

Robert J. Burnett is a director and chair of Houston Harbaugh’s Oil and Gas practice. To learn more about our work with landowners and royalty owners, visit our Oil...
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About Us

Oil and gas development can present unique and complex issues that can be intimidating and challenging. At Houston Harbaugh, P.C., our oil and gas practice is dedicated to protecting the interests of landowners and royalty owners. From new lease negotiations to title disputes to royalty litigation, we can help. Whether you have two acres in Washington County or 5,000 acres in Lycoming County, our dedication and commitment remains the same.

We Represent Landowners in All Aspects of Oil and Gas Law

The oil and gas attorneys at Houston Harbaugh have broad experience in a wide array of oil and gas matters, and they have made it their mission to protect and preserve the landowner’s interests in matters that include:

  • New lease negotiations
  • Pipeline right-of-way negotiations
  • Surface access agreements
  • Royalty audits
  • Tax and estate planning
  • Lease expiration claims
  • Curative title litigation
  • Water contamination claims
Pittsburgh Oil and Gas Lawyer Robert Burnett attorney headshot

Robert Burnett

Robert’s practice is exclusively devoted to the representation of landowners and royalty owners in oil and gas matters. Robert is the Chair of the Houston Harbaugh’s Oil & Gas Practice Group and represents landowners and royalty owners in a wide array of oil and gas matters throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Robert assists landowners and royalty owners in the negotiation of new oil and gas leases as well as modifications to existing leases. Robert also negotiates surface use agreements and pipeline right-of-way agreements on behalf of landowners. Robert also advises and counsels clients on complex lease development and expiration issues, including the impact and effect of delay rental and shut-in clauses, as well as the implied covenants to develop and market oil and gas. Robert also represents landowners and royalty owners in disputes arising out of the calculation of production royalties and the deduction of post-production costs. Robert also assists landowners with oil and gas title issues and develops strategies to resolve and cure such title deficiencies. Robert also advises clients on the interplay between oil and gas leases and solar leases and assists clients throughout Pennsylvania in negotiating solar leases.

Head shot photo of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Lawyer Brendan O'Donnell at Houston Harbaugh

Brendan A. O'Donnell

Brendan O’Donnell is a highly qualified and experienced attorney in the Oil and Gas Law practice. He also practices in our Environmental and Energy Practice. Brendan represents landowners and royalty owners in a wide variety of matters, including litigation and trial work, and in the preparation and negotiation of:

  • Leases
  • Pipeline right of way agreements
  • Surface use agreements
  • Oil, gas and mineral conveyances