News & Insights

Supreme Court of Texas Asked to Settle Retained Acreage Disputes

The Texas Lawbook

February 13, 2018


Horizontal drilling in shale plays can be an expensive proposition, often requiring miles-long wellbores crossing multiple tracts of land. Disputes over who owns what tract have become increasingly common and increasingly complicated, with nine of the state’s intermediate courts of appeals reaching conflicting decisions in the last four years in cases involving how much acreage is protected around a well.

Now the Texas Supreme Court is tasked with clarifying the law in cases where a driller’s state regulatory filings conflict with the lease’s “retained acreage clause.” The court heard arguments earlier this month in a pair of cases being closely watched by the industry.

The first case, Endeavor Energy Resources and Endeavor Petroleum v. Discovery Operating and Patriot Royalty and Land, involves competing claims of ownership in two disputed quarter-sections of land in Martin County. The land is in the Spraberry Trend Area Field, once known as the world’s largest uneconomic field but now the source of increased oil production due to improved fracturing methods.

Beck Redden Partner David Gunn presented arguments to the Supreme Court for Endeavor.


David M. Gunn 713.951.6290