Couple wants exploration company to stop drilling on property

Kelly Holleran Feb. 9, 2011, 4:22pm

A Jefferson County couple has filed suit against the exploration company they claim gave them limited notice of its intent to drill on their property.

Douglas and Tina Almond allege they purchased property on March 26, 1998, which is subject to a drill site and drill site easement. Defendant Ballard Exploration Co. owns the easement, but its lease is set to expire on Feb. 4.

It was not until Jan. 27 that the Almonds heard from Ballard, according to the complaint filed Jan. 28 in Jefferson County District Court.

"At 8:00 p.m. on the evening of January 27, 2011, Defendants contacted the Homeowners for the very first time and leave a voice message stating: 'We know this is unreasonably short notice, but the mineral lease runs out on February 4, 2011, so we will be there first thing in the morning to start drilling,'" the suit states.

At the time they received the message, the Almonds were coping with the hospitalization of Tina Almond's mother, who is in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital with a serious illness, the complaint says.

Still, the Almonds claim they had to deal with Ballard Exploration, which showed up at their home Jan. 28 at around 7 a.m.

At about 8:23 a.m., the Almonds received correspondence from Ballard and defendant Shorthorn Resources. In the communication, the defendants told the Almonds, "Here's your notice," and "We will knock your gate down if you do not let us in," according to the complaint.

The Almonds are protesting the defendants' desires to drill on their property, saying they were not provided with adequate notice.

"Defendants want to drive heavy equipment across the Homeowners' paved driveway to their home, without giving the homeowners any opportunity to discuss alternative routes," the suit states. "Further, Homeowners have livestock on the property that the Homeowners must make arrangements for before Defendants can have access."

The Almonds claim the defendants should have drilled on their property earlier than less than a month before the expiration of their lease.

"The Defendants failure to exercise their rights in a timely manner should not be a basis for Defendants, without reasonable or proper notice, to threaten to destroy and damage the Homeowners' homestead or allow the Homeowners' livestock to run free on the streets and roads of Beaumont, Texas," the complaint says.

In their complaint, the Almonds seek a temporary restraining order against the defendants preventing them from drilling on the property.

The Almonds will be represented by Greg M. Dykeman and Martha R. Campbell of Strong, Pipkin, Bissell and Ledyard in Beaumont.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court.

Case No. D189-274

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