Monday, October 14, 2013

Tournament Post-Mortem

So, I've not competed in 3 taekwondo tournaments, with a fourth coming up next month.  The Apple completed his fourth and the Princess her third, so we are all on pace for testing for our black belts on schedule.

It does give me some concern that my school requires tournaments as a prerequisite for testing for black belt, but I do understand the utility of it.  I just wish it wasn't so expensive (6 tournaments x 3 individuals x $75 - $1350 just for the tournaments, to say nothing of the equipment or the tuition for classes, which I understand and accept), or that there were alternatives available (say, for example, a seminar or something to substitute for one or two tournaments, or something). 

At any rate.  I only did patterns this time.  I probably should have sparred, but with just me and the two childrens, I thought it best to let me miss out on the fighting so that I could get them home at a decent hour.

I've done better in tournaments, so while I'm disappointed, I'm content to know that I'm really just there this time to check a box.  One more and I can test for my black belt, and 3 more in order to get the certificate.

The Apple should be able to get his certificate when he tests in the spring, and the Princess and I should get ours when she tests in the fall.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Too Early in the Morning

But we're driving off to go show off our patterns and whatnot.

I'm a little anxious, as I am wont to be on the day of the tournament, but it's one more down, and then we are that much closer.

The kids should do well.  They are sharp, and don't seem to let the nerves get to them.

Monday, October 07, 2013


So we have a Taekwondo tournament coming up this weekend.  This will be my third, the Princess's third, and the Apple's fourth, which means he has enough tournaments to be eligible to test for his black belt at the next Black Belt testing date, which I believe is in March of next year.  We have another tournament next month in San Antonio that we are planning on attending, which would qualify the princess and myself for the belt, and would put the Apple one test away from earning his certificate to accompany his belt.

Y'all don't really know this, because, well, I don't think any of you read this anymore, but even if you did, I really haven't posted much about it, but I'm pretty giddy in that over the past almost 5 months, I've been working at getting myself into a shape that isn't round.  I've been relatively successful.  In all, before my workout this morning, I had lost 39 pounds, give or take, from where I was at the outset of this endeavor.  I have been trying to incorporate more cardio and weights into my daily routine, as well as two one-mile walks with the dog, and my aforementioned taekwondo. 

It's been tough to lose it, but I can honestly say that I feel better with it off.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Movie Night

So the wife and I had a movie night last night.  We chose a couple romantic-comedies with foreign flair (yes, I went with Rom-Com - but there was a dearth of Meg Ryan, so I think we're okay). 

The first movie we watched was a French movie called "Romantics Anonymous."  This was a cute film - a Chocolate maker with severe social anxiety gets hired at a chocolaterie (or however you spell it), thinking she was going to make chocolate, but is actually hired as a sales rep by the head of the company, who also has a social disability, particularly with regard to talking to women.

The movie was cute, and there's no way that a movie of this nature could get released from Hollywood.  I don't know if I'd watch it again, but it was not bad.

The other movie we watched was Outsourced.  We watched this movie a few years back, right when we got Netflix, and thought it was cute then.  I actually enjoyed it more the second time.  This is a movie about an American sales manager whose department gets outsourced to India and he has to go out to Mumbai (I think) to train the new manager and sales representatives on being more passably American on the telephone.  It is my understanding that the television show was spun off/premised on this movie, but I'm not sure. 

There are parts where the movie is a bit slow, the acting isn't always top notch, and in a couple spots the pacing does seem a little forced, but the characters are likeable, and the movie is well worth the time.  Particularly on a date night at home. 

I recommend both, but definitely think Outsourced is an under the radar gem.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Physical Fitness

I started my first course in Martial Arts about 15-16 years ago while I was in Monterey.  I can't remember exactly which school I attended (it's entirely possible the school has closed down since then), but I remember they did Tang Soo Do and they also had a cardio kickboxing class that my friend attended. 

Unfortunately, I was unable to commit myself to continuing with Tang Soo Do after 3-6 months, particularly after I moved from Monterey.  I found myself out of martial arts completely until about 2001, when I signed up with a Taekwondo dojang in San Angelo, TX.  I was unimpressed with the quality of instruction there, and did not stay longer than about a month.

It wasn't until I got my youngest (the Apple) into Taekwondo a couple years ago that I really started considering getting back into martial arts.  I feel a little odd taking martial arts classes at the Y (I keep hearing Daniel LaRusso saying "Not at the Y, a real school!"), but I find the instructors are good people, they teach the kids well, and so I figured I'd take a chance with it.

My son is currently 2 steps away from black belt, and should be testing for candidate within the month.  I am one belt behind him and my daughter, who started up a few months after me, is just past her halfway mark. 

I don't know how much more physically fit taekwondo has made me, as we only have classes 2 nights a week for an hour at a pop, but I know that it did help.  Adding the cardio and weights to the mix has really been the biggest benefit for my current bit of getting healthy. 

I'm taking a short break from getting back to work, and just felt like rambling a little.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Losing Touch

I swear I've not completely given up on this blog, but I just don't find myself with anything interesting to write.

Since my last post, I started working out more, and eating (somewhat) more healthily.  The goal was to not get winded while walking up the stairs to check on the kids... I take that as a sign that I was not in great health. 

Since then, I've lost 35 pounds, give or take (39 if you count the post-workout weigh-in, but since we're in Texas I attribute most of that to water weight lost through sweating). 

Feeling better.

Friday, May 03, 2013

The Dominant/Servient Estate Theory, Part II

Today, I'm going to continue on my self-study summary of the Dominant/Servient Estate Theory as covered in the Texas Law of Oil and Gas, Second Edition. 

The authors note that generally, the mineral owner's rights are established at the time of severance.  This means that a landowner who severs the mineral estate from the surface must thereafter consider the mineral estate when they are developing the surface - you can't harm or destroy the minerals.  Likewise, you can't subdivide the surface and put in covenants that limit or prevent the development of oil, gas, or other minerals in such a manner that deprives the mineral owner of their rights.  This is also the case for subsequent purchasers of the surface estate, who then take their parcels/tracts subject to the mineral owner's pre-existing rights.  The authors note, and in drafting Oil and Gas Title Opinions, this is where we would most often see this come up, that the mineral owner's implied rights of surface use are not affected by subdivision deed restrictions which might limit the use of the lots for residential purposes only.  Finally, the authors note that a grantor who reserves the minerals and the right to use all the subsurface water for oil and gas exploration and production are not affected by surface subdivisions. 

In the next paragraph, the Authors note that unless it's expanded by subsequent agreement, the rights of surface and subsurface use imbued on the mineral estate are limited to the surface estate from which it is severed.  This is to say that if I own the minerals under Blackacre and the minerals under Whiteacre, I cannot use the surface of Blackacre to develop the minerals under Whiteacre without a separate agreement with the surface owner(s) of Blackacre.  The text lists the disposal of salt water - you can inject salt water beneath the leased premises, but not for water from wells off the lease.  The text does list an apparent exception.

Pooling or unitizing provides a different issue, and one which the authors address quite well.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Dominant/Servient Estate Theory, Part 1

This is the first subsection to the Rights of Surface and Subsurface use section of Chapter 2 in Texas Law of Oil and Gas, Section 2. 

When we look at the mineral fee ownership and the different rights, one of the rights we briefly mentioned in our last post was the implied right to use the surface in ways necessary to carry out oil and gas production operations.  As an aside, I have seen numerous deeds where there has been a severance of the mineral estate but the mineral owner has waived their right to enter on the land - keep an eye out for this on your conveyances.  It should be elementary to conclude that entering on the surface in order to carry out exploration, drilling, producing, transporting and marketing operations could in many circumstances result in interfering with the right of the surface owner to use the surface.  How to deal with that - first we have to determine which estate is dominant.  In Texas, we have case law that has established the mineral fee as the dominant estate, and the text cites numerous cases on point (I will limit my reference herein to Vest v. Exxon Corp., 752 F.2d 959 [5th Cir. 1985]).  This means that the mineral fee owner can actually enjoin actions by the surface owner or lessee that interfered with reasonable use, operation and development of the mineral estate (again, more case references here - see the text for the particular cases).  The text also discusses the historical chain of the doctrine that established the mineral estate as dominant back to the Kingdom of Spain, where Spanish law held all minerals were owned by the sovereign, and he necessarily had the right to use the surface of privately owned land for mining purposes.

The implied right to use the surface includes several activities that are often exercised by a company that has executed an oil and gas lease with the mineral owner.  This includes conducting seismic tests (I can't remember but I think I saw an episode of Psych where the guys came across seismic testing equipment - maybe it was Monk?), building storage tanks, building roads (to get to the drillsite), and using the landowner's water for drilling and secondary recovery operations (secondary recovery includes adding pressure to the minerals subsurface to push more of them to the wellbore for production). 

We will cover more of this subject on another post.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Attributes of the Mineral Estate

Here in Texas, the state Supreme Court has attributed five "essential attributes" that imbue to the ownership of a severed mineral estate, including (1) the right to develop, (2) the right to lease, (3) the right to receive bonus payments, (4) the right to receive delay rentals, and (5) the right to receive royalty payments. 

The text of Texas Law of Oil and Gas, Second Edition then suggests that it might help to understand these attributes might be better understood by separating them into two types of of actions that a mineral fee owner might take.  The right to develop, which would include exploring, drilling, producing, transporting, storing, and marketing, as well as the implied right to use the surface in ways necessary to carry out said operations and the right to authorize others to do so. 

The remaining attributes would result from a transaction whereby the mineral fee owner grants the aforementioned rights to a mineral company (usually through what's called an "oil and gas lease").  The right to lease, listed second above, would also be referred to as the "Executive right," while the bonus (usually a lump sum payment on the execution date of the lease as consideration for transferring the right to develop), delay rentals (periodic payments for the right to defer drilling), and royalties (a right to a stated fraction or percentage of the value produced without any deduction for costs) are financial benefits that the lease usually provides to the executive right holder. 

Now, it's possible to have a lease situation where the parties have divided ownership of the mineral fee.  As an example, the text describes a situation where one person might share the lease royalty, but not the bonus or delay rentals, and then states that the situation in question would require a determination as to where another benefit (atypical) is a royalty.  Of course, the parties could always agree to a different arrangement. 

Moreover, it's important to note that a mineral owner is not required to choose only between choosing to lease or choosing to develop.  Other options, such as participating in a Joint Operating Agreement (for example), are available to the mineral fee owner as well.

There is more to this particular section, please read the text itself for a more thorough understanding - as I've mentioned before, this is more as a study aid for my personal benefit while buffering my knowledge base.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More on Adverse Possession

I've already started a summary of the Texas Law of Oil and Gas Second Edition's section on Adverse Possession.  This post will be a continuation of that summary. 

One thing to consider with regard to a severance vis a vis the statute of limitations is that the severance *must* occur prior to the claimant's entry onto the surface.  Put another way - an adverse claimant who takes possession of a tract of land that is not severed takes possession of the entire tract (the surface and the minerals).  A subsequent severance would be subject to that possession and would require the ouster of the claimant.  The authors note a limited exception where the owner conveys the surface estate to the adverse possessor by a deed wherein he reserves the mineral interest.

The next section of the text then discusses Thomas v. Southwestern Settlement & Development Co., where the court held that when there's a purported severance by a person who doesn't held good title the subsequent occupancy/entry of the surface will not affect the title of the mineral estate.  Please note that the court here was dealing with a claim under the 5 year statute of limitations.  On the other hand - a severance completed by the adverse claimant who maintains the surface "has no more effect on the running of the statute of limitations than a severance by a true owner after an adverse entry takes place." (see Texas Law of Oil and Gas, Page 2-7).  The text also notes that the most common cases involve oil and gas leases that the adverse claimant who occupies the surface.  So, if you adversely claim a tract, and then execute an oil and gas lease, you need the continued surface occupancy to benefit the mineral estate.  The opposite has been held to be true, as well, where an adverse possessor who conveyed the surface and reserved the minerals - where there is a continuous surface occupancy by the grantee, the limitation title to the mineral estate is ripened. 

Now, you can acquire title to a mineral estate through adverse possession where the estate's been severed, however, according to Blocker v. Davis (241 S.W.2d 698, 702 (Tex. Civ. App. - Fort Worth 1951, write ref'd n.r.e.), "such a dominion exercised over said minerals as would have become notice to owners of the mineral estate" must be exercised.  This would probably include drilling followed by production (continuous) of minerals over the severed estate.  The text also provides other examples - check the book for those.

The text also discusses claims to limitation title by a lessee that remained in possession and continued to produce after the lease terminated because of a period of Non-production, e.g. Natural Gas Pipeline Co. v. Pool (124 S.W.3d 188 (Tex. 2003), but it's best to read this on your own, as well... particularly given the length of this post already. 

Next time, we'll get into section 2.1[A][1]b - Attributes of the Mineral Estate

Friday, April 12, 2013

Texas Oil and Gas Law - Adverse Possession, Part 1

It's been a while, but we're back.  The last time we spoke, we discussed the mineral estate generally.  Today, we will go over the concept of Adverse Possession with regard to the mineral estate. 

When the surface estate and the mineral estate are jointly owned (i.e. there has been no severance), then adverse possession extends to the minerals underneath.  In other words, if you acquire title to the surface estate through limitation title, then you also get the mineral estate (the whole bundle of sticks). 

Now, when we talk about adverse possession with respect to the mineral estate, the first issue that must be addressed is when the severance occurred, as well as whether the severance was a total severance or a partial severance. 

Let's tackle the easiest portion first - if the mineral estate was completely (100%) severed from the surface estate prior to the first date of occupation of the surface by the claimant, then the claimant cannot acquire any interest in the mineral estate.  This is logical, as the mineral owner's estate is separate and distinct from the surface. 

Now, if there was a partial severance, which has been known to happen, then the adverse possessor would be able to gain limitation title to the portion reserved (i.e. the non-severed portion). 

The authors of Texas Law of Oil and Gas note that a surface owner in possession is in no better position than an adverse possessor.  The state has had several cases where the surface owner has asserted limitation title to the mineral based on continuous surface occupancy that did not reserve the mineral severance (and based on tax payments), the state has noted that even where the instrument that separate the surface and the mineral rights was not recorded, possession of the surface under a chain of title that contains a mineral severance cannot be adverse to the mineral estate. 

We will continue with Adverse Possession on another post. 

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Mineral Estate

Once a mineral estate has been severed from the surface estate on a tract of land, that mineral estate becomes a fee simple estate in and of itself.  This means that it's not subject to abandonment and also receives, as the authors of Texas Law of Oil and Gas Second Edition note, the benefit of the doctrine of accretion (the gradual buildup of land from water).  Moreover, you can receive ad valorum taxes separate from what's imposed on the surface estate and contracts regarding the mineral estate must comply with the Statute of Frauds, et al.

Because it's a fee estate, the owner of the mineral rights has the same basic rights that any other fee owner has, including the right to use, convey, and dispose of the property, as well as creating lesser estates (such as a Life Estate). 

Adverse Possession is the next section, but it takes up a decent amount of space, so I'll address that another time.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Legas Effect of a Severance

Today we enter into Chapter 2 of Texas Law of Oil and Gas.  The first section of Chapter 2 is "The Mienral Estate and The Surface Estate. 

When we look at general property law in Texas, from the time of Patent, the owner of the land owns the oil, gas and other minerals below the surface in Fee Simple (the authors cite Texas Co. v. Daugherty, 107 Tex. 226, 176 S.W. 717).  It is, however, possible to sever the ownership interest between the surface and the oil, gas and other minerals.  The most often means of doing so is via a mineral reservation in a deed, however, it's also possible for there to be a conveyance of the oil, gas and other minerals via deed or other conveyance. 

There are legal consequences and other considerations involved in a severed estate.  For example, the authors cite Glasscock Underground Water Conservation District v. Pruit (915 S.W.2d 577 - Tex. App.--El Paso 1996, n.w.h.), where surface owners claimed that their having joined a water conservation district bound the owners of the severed mineral estate to... annex the land described in (a petition) be annexed into the Glasscock Underground Water Conservation District.  However, the court held that the owners of the mineral estates held equal right to use, dispose and tax the water.  The conclusion reached by the court was that the surface owner also owns the water beneath his land, so he can entrust exclusive jurisdiction of it tot he district he chooses to join, howeve,r the subsurface water owner does not have the exclusive right to use.  The owner of the dominant mienral estate has a right to use water belonging to the surface estate for various exploration and development purposes (this would be a part of the bundle of sticks included in the mineral estate), and only if the owners of the mineral estates remain in the Santa Rita Water District and began withdrawing water for secondary recovery would there be the need for conflicting assertions of jurisdiction and regulation.  This sounds to me a bit as if the court punted on the issue, but that's what the conclusion is. 

Tune in next time when we delve into the Mineral Estate.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cycling Operations

I'm going to start today's post with a word for word restatement of the first sentence in the Cycling Operations section of Texas Law of Oil and Gas, Second Edition (by Ernest E. Smith and Jacqueline Lang Weaver):

From an operational standpoint cycling operations are somewhat similar to pressure maintenance and, like pressure maintenance, are typically undertaken early in the life of a reservoir.

Companies use cycling when we have reservoirs with both condensate ("wet gas") and  law-condensate gas ("dry gas") - note this is a very cursory overview of the difference between wet and dry gas.  For a better description, look here.  If the operator allows the internal pressure of a reservoir to decline too much, then the heavier hydrocarbons could liquefy, which would make them unrecoverable.  In order to help prevent this from happening, companies will produce the wet gas, take out the heavy hydrocarbons, and then re-inject the dry gas left over back into the reservoir to help maintain pressure, and push the remaining wet gas toward the wells which allows for a longer life of the reservoir. 

The authors note that a loss of title case for cycling operations is not as strong as that for pressure maintenance.  Chemically, dry gas is different than wet gas, so one can argue an earlier in time reduction to possession.  Additionally, the authors report that there is often some expectation that the dry gas will be produced at a later time (this would be part of why they participate in cycling operations). 

There is still a problem inherent in injecting dry gas into a reservoir with multiple operators with multiple producing wells. 

The authors cite Corzelius v. Harrell (Tex. 509, 186 S. W. 2d, 961) as a related, though not on point, case - where the courts and the parties appeared to assume that the rule of capture applied to reinjected dry gas.

That's the end of Chapter 1.  Next time, we'll move on to Chapter 2 - Types of Interests.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pressure Maintenance

Well, it's been a while since I've done a post on Oil and Gas Law, but that's changing now.

When last we spoke on the subject, we discussed Gas Storage.  Today, we're going to address a related subject, Pressure Maintenance. 

One of the ways of storing gas is through injecting gas into a producing reservoir.  Essentially, what you're doing is increasing the efficiency and lengthening the life of an oil reservoir spurred by solution gas expansion or from a "gas-cap drive."  (the authors of the Book link to Tex. Nat. Res. Code Ann Sec. 91.176).  They do this by removing gas that has been produced with the oil and then they will re-inject it at various places in the oil reservoir.  to help keep up the pressure that produces the oil.

Inasmuch as gas and oil migrate, there is no way to ensure that the gas that is re-injected will not end up moving to other parts of the oil reservoir and then be produced by other companies who might hold a lease on a different spot.  The question that would arise when it's re-produced would be, "who owns it?"  As of the time of printing of Texas Law of Oil and Gas (second edition), there has not been a Texas case on point - the authors note that this is native gas withdrawn and replaced, citing the correlations to the wild animal theory.  Additionally, gas withdrawn for reinjection is done so expressly not for future withdrawal, but to make the efficient production of oil last longer. 

The authors cite a couple cases related to the subject that differentiate between a true pressure maintenance situation where multiple parties own leases in a reservoir and where only one does, as well as reinjection into a depleted gas reservoir for storage, but the crux of the matter is, while not decided as a matter of law, ownership of native gas that has been reinjected for the purpose of prolonging production of an oil well would belong to the subsequent producer of said gas. 

Friday, March 15, 2013


Okay, home and rested!

So, this was my first ever cruise, and I chose to go with the whole family, as well as with my father and step-mother.  We had fun.

Because it was our first cruise, and because there were so many of us going, we decided to go with Carnival, as it provided the best value and the timing was best suited for when we wanted to sail.  If you decide to go, check multiple lines (I looked at Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, the latter of which did not have anything in the Western Caribbean, at least not in the time frames we were sailing), and different departure ports.  I was able to save about $800 by driving to New Orleans for our embarkation as opposed to the same cruise out of Galveston one day earlier.  Even factoring in gas, lodging, and meals, that was still over $500 less that we had to pay.

The cruise ship itself sort of felt aged, decor-wise, but it was about 15-20 years old, so that seems reasonable.  I would say the food was decent to fair; not outstanding, but with Carnival, I was not expecting 5 star dining.  I did buy the soda card, which was about $35 for me and $25 for my son - this gave us unlimited soft drinks on the boat (normally $4 a glass), but I drink soda pretty regularly, so I made out ahead by going this route. 

Alcohol is not cheap, but there's so much to do that finding time to have more than one or two glasses would take real effort. 

There is plenty to do on the cruise ship, yet at the same time, we found plenty of time where we were trying to figure out what to do "now."  We're not young, and I'm not exactly in beach shape, so hanging out by the pool trying to tan was not really in the cards for me - mental note, I need to drop about 25 lbs before my next cruise.

The shore excursions were pretty cool - we saw some Mayan ruins (Dzibilchaltun), which were impressive, and we hired a private driver for our tour of Cozumel, which was definitely money well spent.  We took a tour of a tequila factory as well as a chocolateria, where the kids got to grind their own cocoa beans for hot chocolate.  Definitely a good things for youngsters. 

On the cruise, there are kid's areas - Camp carnival for kids up to age 11, Circle C for ages 12-14, and O2 for 15-17.  These areas are full of fun activities for the kids, but there are limits on the hours of operation - I think we managed about 2-3 hours at a time with the kids in these areas.  My 14 year old more or less just had run of the ship, but the other two we kept closer tabs on.  There were some kids who were just left to fend for themselves, and in my opinion, shouldn't have been, but that's a different story.  All in all, we had a great time. 

One thing we did on the ship was a wine tasting/pairing, which was really good. 

Now, Carnival ships have had a rough go of it lately, with Costa Concordia, Triumph, Dream, and Legend each having varying degrees of calamities strike.  Unfortunately, our ship also had some problems, however, nothing so severe as to prevent us from getting to and from the various ports safely.  We had an issue with steering due to a malfunction on the starboard azimuth (I don't know what it does, but it apparently affects steering), which required a technician to be flown in to Progreso to work on during our shore excursion. 

We really enjoyed our cruise, and I would be more than happy to do another one.  I have already tentatively started trying to plan a family cruise for Summer 2014, hopefully somewhere new - maybe Jamaica and Grand Cayman, or, if I could swing it, the Mediterranean.  If you decide to take a cruise, sailing to Progreso and Yucatan is an absolutely great first cruise. 

Sorry I went on so long, but once I started recapping the cruise, I couldn't find a good place to stop - there's a lot more to share, but this covers the basics pretty well.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Real Assault on Our Rights

For all the palaver about assaults on our Constitutional rights with regard to the Second Amendment, let's take a moment to consider a recent decision affecting our Fourth Amendment rights. During his administration, President Bush appointed two justices to the Supreme Court. One of those appointees, Justice Samuel Alito, joined by the other four Conservative appointees, just issued the ruling in Clapper v. Amnesty International. For those who claim to be concerned about threats to our Constitutional rights, this is a real and actual matter of concern.

In a nutshell, Justice Alito, joined by C.J. Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, has placed warrentless wiretapping in a nifty (for the Government) Catch-22 - in order to bring a suit for damages arising from an unconstitutional search and seizure with respect to a warrentless wiretap of your communications, you have to prove first that you are in fact one of the individuals the government has wiretapped and are in their database. The rub is that the government holds no requirement to disclose the individuals who are the targets of the wiretapping.

As Glenn Greenwald notes, "a law without a remedy is worthless," as he quoted Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 15 - "It is essential to the idea of a law, that it be attended with a sanction; or, in other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience, the resolutions or commands which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than advice or recommendation." This shameful tactic of removing standing to shield the law from Judicial review is one that President Bush used with FISA; it's doubly shameful that President Obama has continued the tack.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Advice for Spring 2013 Texas State Bar Exam takers

Reposted from June, 2008, but still pertinent.

It's almost July; the exam is coming up in about a month. Some of y'all may be getting stressed, particularly about practice exam/simulated MBE scores. First off - the simulated MBE is to give you an idea of what the exam is like and to kind of remind you that this is coming up. Keep studying your rules of law, and you will be fine.

Remember, the exam is there to test how well you can spot issues, state the rule and apply it (this is your IRAC in action). You have to be able to keep your thoughts organized - take your time and let the answer come out. Don't panic. So long as you've studied, you should be fine. The exam is designed to be difficult, but passable. The idea is that you need to put in the effort to prepare for it. Remember that, and remember that you already learned most of this in law school and you're just refreshing your mind while studying for the bar, and you should be fine. You still need to actually study, though. That part is tough to pass by...

I can't tell anyone "how" to study for the bar exam. Everybody learns their own way. I can tell you what worked for me, if that gives you a launching point for your own preparation after BarBri ends.

Photog and I studied together. We went to BarBri together, then went to the school and studied together. One thing that helped us was that we were able to find a room where we could speak to each other without worrying about disturbing others. This way, we could go over practice questions and exams and discuss the answers to reinforce what we were learning. We actually chose the International Law Society office at STCL because we knew we would be able to study and still have things to take the focus off our stress.

We would start the day by doing about 30-50 multiple choice questions, either from the Barbri software or questions from other exam sources. We would read 10 questions, we would both come up with answers individually, then we'd share our answer. If the answers did not match, then we would "sell" our answer to the other before we checked the answer (on the software we usually did this one question at a time). After we checked our answer, we made sure we understood the reasoning for the answer, particularly if we got it wrong, or if we got it right but only because we guessed the correct letter. Attention to detail counts here. Read each word in the question and answer. Then we'd take lunch.

After the MC questions, we would start on the essays (should be the yellow book). Again, we'd read a question, come up with an answer, explain the rule of law, and support our position. For these, we usually were pretty close with our answers, but our reasoning might differ slightly, except in the situations where we simply had no idea about the topic of the question (this will happen - make sure you make note of it and keep going - don't get bogged down). We would do this for 3-5 hours, usually getting through 3-6 essays (don't worry about speed, which will come, worry about getting the rules down). Then it was time for coffee and coca-cola breaks.

Then, depending on our energy level, we would consider going over the Procedure and Evidence questions - you want to do these a couple times, just to make sure you're comfortable with the questions - there's a limited number of questions that they can ask, so you should have little trouble getting these in your head.

One of the things that we had to do was keep something around to occupy ourselves - we had toy swords and a Nerf ball that we would bat around, and a yardstick we would balance from time to time. I find that I need to keep active while I'm studying, it helps me focus. This is certainly not for everyone and if you are studying with anyone, make sure that your study partner is of similar activity requirement.

Finally, keep your sense of humor, don't get discouraged.  Should you find yourself flailing or feeling like you don't know anything, just recite the common law standard for burglary (the unlawful breaking and entering of a dwelling house of another at night with the intent to commit a felony therein).  This helps you refocus and get the ball rolling again - it can galvanize you.  You know the information, you just need to practice getting it out. Like I said before - the exam is there to challenge you, not to try to fail you. If you ever need any bad jokes to ease the stress, I may know one or two.

Lightweight Blogging

Just wanted to take a moment to share the fact that we're going on a cruise in a few weeks.  You are not.  Be jealous!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Super Bowl

A couple things... first of all, I thought the commercials this year were by and large listless.  Nothing terribly water-cooler quality to speak of.  I did not care for the hot girl and nerd guy making out commercial, which I thought was wrong-headed, but it's not a surprise given the company it was made for.

I thought the game turned out to be quite good.  I'm not suggesting that it would have changed the outcome, but I did think the officiating was markedly one-sided, to the point that I right now cannot recall one penalty Baltimore got called for during the game.  Moreover, I do recall seeing at least 3 very blatant non-calls in the 4th quarter, one of which did have some impact on the outcome of the game (not saying it changed it, but it limited the potential for the game to end differently). 

I'm happy for the Ravens, though I found myself pulling for San Francisco in the game. 

Now for bed, then back to work.

Friday, January 25, 2013


I'm taking a brief break from Oil and Gas writing today.  Instead, I went and watched Movie 43, which was quite possibly the worst movie with the most talent I've ever seen.  I don't understand how Kate Winslett, Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone, Halle Berry, Patrick Warburton, and so many others could let themselves end up in a movie that bad.  I don't think I could quantify just how bad this movie was, and this is after going in knowing it was a January release. 

One other thing I noticed, was that before the 20 minutes of movie previews (!), was something I've never imagined would be possible.  It was a preview for a commercial.  There was a commercial preview at the movie theater before the movie previews, complete with a reference to go look up the product for the complete Super Commercial (I'm guessing the "premiere" of the commercial will be at the Super Bowl). 

We are screwed as a nation. 

(WOMBAT is an acronym that means "Waste of Money, Brains and Talent")

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

On Gas Storage

Continuing my studies from Texas Law of Oil and Gas, Second Edition, I am currently on the authors' section on Rights in Natural Gas Injected into Underground Reservoirs (This begins on Page 1-21 for those following at home). 

With regard to ownership over escaped oil, the authors note that disputed are more likely to be in the form of disclaimers as opposed to outright title assertions. 

They then note that there is a distinction between oil and natural gas in the matter.  When natural gas is injected underground for storage or other purposes, there can be legal title questions raised.  They then note that there are several relevant factors to consider when title to natural gas is disputed, including among others the reason for injecting, the structure of the underground reservoir, the contents, the ownership of rights to production from the reservoir and the applicability of the Underground Gas Storage and Conservation Act.

It makes sense that natural gas is used more in cold weather for heating, or during severe weather as opposed to fair weather.  In order to ensure a steady supply during periods of peak use, it makes sense that Natural Gas would be stored, and with gas, it also makes sense to make use of natural storage spaces, such as underground, such as from a previously depleted gas unit, or from leaching salt from a salt dome formation.  With regard to the former, there is one challenge - the depleted formation will invariably still have some gas from the original source, which the authors dub "native" gas. 

If we remember from our previous discussions, oil and gas that has been produced becomes Personal Property, as opposed to Real Property.  Being personal property, ownership of natural gas that is stored underground can be abandoned like other property.  If the storage company is unable or unwilling to assert control, such as through negligence, however, the Court in Lone Star Gas Co. v. Murchison, the authors note, held that the company that injected the gas that migrated to a part of the reservoir not subject to the company's storage rights had NOT abandoned the property because the primary tenet in the doctrine of abandonment is the intent to abandon, and the injecting company "unquestionably" planned to withdraw the gas during peak consumption.

Another concept of abandonment comes through the concept of commingling, where personal property which is fungible that belongs to two or more people becomes mixed in such a way that it's impossible to determine whose property belongs to whom.  The Texas Supreme Court has held that commingling is not grounds for abandonment based on commingling in Humble Oil  & Refining Co. v. West, where a reservoir that was still capable of producing (the book does not state whether it was producing, rather that it had not yet ended its productive life), was the target of injection.  The injecting company in that case had to pay royalty on the native-gas portion of the withdrawals, and had the burden of establishing with reasonable certainty the property of injected gas to native gas. 

That's plenty to read for now.  Next time, I'll try to touch on Pressure Maintenance and Cycling Operations.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ownership of Production

The other day, we touched briefly on the Ownership in Place Doctrine.  This was extremely brief based on the amount of free time I had at the moment, and, as always, encourage you to review Texas Law of Oil and Gas, Second Edition for a thorough review of this and any other topics discussed herein with regard to oil and gas law in Texas.

Today, we're going to go over the concept of Ownership of Production.  We know from previous study that Oil and Gas underground are part of the realty - in other words, they can be conveyed like and other interest in land, and they can be severed, as well.

This changes, however, once the Oil and Gas resources are produced.  As a matter of law in Texas, once produced, oil and gas becomes personal property, and therefore out of the purview of the Rule of Capture.  This means that once you get minerals to the mouth of the well, if (as the book gives for example), a pipe breaks and the oil flows across the surface of the operator's land onto adjacent property, then the owner of that property's mineral estate does not automatically gain control of the oil.  With respect to gas, the authors cite Lone Star Gas Co. v. Murchison (353 S.W.2d 870 (Tex.Civ App. - Dallas 1962, writ ref'd n.r.e.)), where natural gas that is pumped into an underground reservoir for storage purposes by an injecting company, said natural gas retains its character as personal property. 

This seems to be the logical position - once you've take steps to retain the minerals, such as injecting the gas into a depleted reservoir, you are not "unproducing" the minerals, and as long as you retain control, then you aren't abandoning it.  As it stands, the authors note that the Underground Gas Storage and Conservation Act (Tex. Nat. Res. Code Ann. Sec. 91.171 - 91.184) actually outright states that natural gas is the personal property of the injector and not subject to the rule of capture.

This concept of classifying produced oil and gas as personal property does contain legal consequences, such as disposition on death, as well as what controls the sale - e.g. from the statute of frauds doctrine to the USS, as well as the type of security interest that can be acquired.

I will try to discuss the authors' section on Gas Storage in the next day or so.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ownership in Place

The State of Texas adopted the Ownership-in-place theory in 1915.  The premise is that because oil and gas resources lie in the ground, by necessity, they are part of the realty.  The authors of Texas Law of Oil and Gas (see Previous Post) cite Texas Co. v. Daugherty (107 Tex. 226, 176 S.W. 717 (1915), which I won't re-state here. 

The same case addressed the issue of what the authors dub the "fugitive" nature of oil and gas by noting that the materials are as likely to flow from the ground just as one who purchases solid minerals (e.g. coal) runs the risk that the minerals are not there.  If the minerals are present, then they can be exploited. 

Texas uses the Correlative Rights doctrine and the fact that claims of injury from drainage from adjacent property is based on conjecture to address the drainage issues.

More later.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mineral Ownership Principals

This post is probably going to be boring for anyone reading it, because I'm basically re-stating the Texas Law of Oil and Gas, Second Edition, by Ernest E. Smitha nd Jacqueline Lang Weaver (I'm reviewing my work right now, and hope that this will help the study sink in that much deeper).  Nothing I am writing is new, and while I am trying to re-state it, the ideas come from their research and writing.  If I'm misstating what they've said, then I welcome corrections, however, I will not be posting any other citations for their work beyond this paragraph. 

In Oil and Gas law, particularly here in Texas (which I single out due to the fact that my study materials are for Texas Oil and Gas Law), perhaps the first issue one encounters when dealing with Oil and Gas after locating it is the question, "Who owns it?"  over the years, the concept that has controlled has been the Rule of Capture. 

As the authors note, "the probable reason for the urle of capture was not so much the legal analogies but practical necessity."  The concept apparently was adopted earliest in Appalachia and here in Texas beginning in 1910. 

The basic notion of the Rule of Capture is, essentially, that a person owns all of the oil and gas produced by a well on his land, even if the well is draining oil and gas from underneath other properties.  Note that this applies to wells that are bottomed on their land, not a well that has begun on their property and angled into another person's property - that would be a trespass.

There are remedies for the owner whose minerals are being drained, such as an offset wel.  The landowners, in Texas, has this ability, as recognized by the Texas Supreme Court. 

There is a lot to go through in this book, and I'm going to be doing it relatively piecemeal, so bear with me.

Again, this is the "lite" version of the material - please read Texas Law of Oil and Gas, Second Edition for a thorough working of the law.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I must say, I was kind of hoping that Peyton would fare a bit better than he did. While I think that pass was quite the mistake, I also think it's unfair to place the blame for the loss on his shoulders. He wasn't the one who gave up a 70 yard touchdown pass in the last two minutes of regulation to put the game in overtime. On another note - I am not necessarily a fan of how Alex Smith got jobbed in San Francisco, but I'm happy to see the 49ers win and bid good evening to Green Bay's playoff season.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I'm watching 2 and a half men, and they just finished a musical number called "You're a douche." I don't think I've ever heard the word douche used so much in any one day, let alone 5 minutes. Now, I know the sow was never exactly high brow, but man, this is painful to watch anymore. I do hope this is it for the show.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Another New Year

I'm not convinced anybody is still reading this, and I'm definitely not convinced that I'll be posting any more regularly than I have the past couple of years, but to those who are still out there - Happy New Year!