Closing the Deal in the Bayou State: The Purchase and Sale of Producing Oil and Gas Properties

Author:Patrick S. Ottinger
Position:Ottinger Hebert, L.L.C. Lafayette, Louisiana. Member, Louisiana and Texas Bars; Adjunct Professor of Law, Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Pages:691-786
 
FREE EXCERPT
Closing the Deal in the Bayou State: The Purchase
and Sale of Producing Oil and Gas Properties
Patrick S. Ottinger*
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction .................................................................................. 693
I. Fundamentals of the Sale of Producing Oil and Gas Properties ... 696
A. The Nature of Producing Oil and Gas Properties ................... 696
B. Sales Involving Producing Oil and Gas Properties
in Practice ............................................................................... 697
C. The “Hierarchy of Pertinent Law” ......................................... 697
D. Influence of Decisions of Other States ................................... 699
II. Provisions of the Louisiana Mineral Code Pertinent to the
Sale and Assignment of Mineral Leases ....................................... 701
A. The Alienability of a Mineral Lease ...................................... 701
B. Inapplicability of the Remedy of Lesion Beyond Moiety ...... 702
C. Other Consequences Arising Out of the Assignment
of the Mineral Lease .............................................................. 703
III. Provisions of the Louisiana Civil Code Pertinent to the
Sale and Assignment of Mineral Leases ....................................... 703
A. Applicability of the Law of Sales ........................................... 704
B. Agreements Preparatory to the Sale ....................................... 704
1. Option .............................................................................. 705
2. Contract to Sell ................................................................ 706
3. Right of First Refusal ...................................................... 706
a. General ...................................................................... 706
b. “Pref Rights” in the Industry ..................................... 707
C. Other Associated Agreements ................................................ 712
1. Confidentiality Agreements ............................................. 712
2. Term Sheets ..................................................................... 713
3. Letters of Intent ............................................................... 714
4. Access or Boarding Agreements ..................................... 716
5. Transition Agreements .................................................... 717
Copyright 2016, by PATRICK S. OTTINGER.
* Ottinger Hebert, L.L.C. Lafayette, Louisiana. Member, Louisiana and
Texas Bars; Adjunct Professor of Law, Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisia na
State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
692 LOUISIANA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 76
D. Agreements of Sale ................................................................ 719
IV. Customary Features of a Purchase and Sale Agreement .............. 721
A. Definitions .............................................................................. 722
B. Property and Purchase Price................................................... 723
1. Identification of Assets to be Sold and to be Excluded ... 723
2. Preliminary Purchase Price .............................................. 726
3. Deposit ............................................................................. 726
4. Purchase Price Adjustments ............................................ 727
C. Due Diligence ........................................................................ 734
1. Purpose and Objective ..................................................... 735
2. Title Due Diligence ......................................................... 736
3. Environmental Due Diligence ......................................... 740
a. Scope ......................................................................... 740
b. Regulatory Requirement ........................................... 741
c. Site-Specific Trust Agreements ................................ 741
4. Regulatory Due Diligence ............................................... 743
a. Administrative ........................................................... 743
b. Regulatory ................................................................. 744
5. Other Areas of Interest in the Conduct of Due
Diligence .......................................................................... 745
a. Financial .................................................................... 745
b. Litigation ................................................................... 745
c. Contractual ................................................................ 747
d. Insurance ................................................................... 749
D. Representations and Warranties ............................................. 749
1. Of the Seller ..................................................................... 750
2. Of the Purchaser .............................................................. 750
E. Covenants ............................................................................... 751
1. Pre-Closing Covenants .................................................... 752
2. Post-Closing Covenants ................................................... 752
F. Termination Provisions .......................................................... 753
G. Allocation of Liability and the Associated Indemnities ......... 755
H. The Closing ............................................................................ 757
1. Consummation of Transaction ......................................... 757
2. Preparation of Closing Documents .................................. 758
3. Typical Closing Documents ............................................ 758
I. Post-Closing Adjustments ...................................................... 759
J. Miscellaneous Provisions ....................................................... 760
1. “Freedom of Contract” .................................................... 760
2. Material Adverse Effect Clause ....................................... 761
3. Choice of Law ................................................................. 763
2016] CLOSING THE DEAL IN THE BAYOU STATE 693
4. Forum Selection Clauses ................................................. 765
V. Remedies for Breach of the Purchase and Sale Agreement .......... 766
A. Specific Performance ............................................................. 766
B. Money Damages .................................................................... 771
1. Duty to Mitigate .............................................................. 771
2. Stipulated Damages ......................................................... 772
C. Attorney’s Fees ...................................................................... 773
D. Prescription ............................................................................ 773
1. Applicable Prescriptive Period ........................................ 774
2. Unreasonable Delay in Seeking Relief ............................ 774
E. Arbitration of Disputes ........................................................... 777
Conclusion .................................................................................... 781
Appendix ...................................................................................... 782
INTRODUCTION
The purchase and sale of producing oil and gas properties is a significant
part of an oil and gas practice in Louisiana.1 The term “producing oil and
gas properties” encompasses not only the principal asset (the mineral lease)
but also the equipment and wells that have been drilled pursuant to the
mineral lease, as well as the panoply of agreements, licenses, permits, and
other contractual rights assembled by the selling party in connection with
the development and exploitation of the mineral lease. For a variety of
reasons, a party who owns producing mineral leases might elect to divest
itself of those interests.
The reasons leading a leasehold owner to a decision to divest might
range from a desire to be relieved of future liabilities, or at least to pass
along such obligations to another, to “quit” the business, or to commit
capital to other ventures or enterprises. Additionally, in the current
environment of depressed prices for oil and gas, many exploration and
production (“E&P”) companies operating under a commercial line of
credit are facing the certainty of a redetermination of their borrowing base
1. Having practiced oil and gas law since the Spring of 1974, this Author
has been involved in innumerable transactions of the type discussed here,
involving the purchase and sale of producing properties in several states, totaling
per transaction purchase prices ranging from smaller amounts to many millions
of dollars. The total of all such transactions would be in the billions of dollars in
the aggregate.

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP