On December 14, 2018, the Texas Supreme Court declined to review a Davis, Gerald, & Cremer client victory in a dispute over the meaning of a covenant-to-release clause in an oil-and-gas lease. The Court’s decision leaves intact the El Paso Court of Appeals’s holding that Apache Deepwater, LLC did not lose previously developed acreage long after the expiration of the primary term. See Apache Deepwater, LLC v. Double Eagle Dev., LLC, 557 S.W.3d 650 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2017, pet. denied).
The key issue presented in the case was whether the disputed clause was triggered once—at the expiration of the primary term—or over and over again anytime production ceased on a well in the lease’s secondary term (a theory sometimes called “rolling termination”). DGC argued on behalf of Apache that the clause’s language, read in harmony with the lease’s habendum and drilling-operations clauses, could mean only one thing: the covenant-to-release clause was triggered just once.
The court of appeals agreed with Apache. And after requesting full briefing on the merits, the Texas Supreme Court denied Double Eagle’s petition for review.