HOUSTON – The Provost Umphrey Law Firm has filed a series of individual lawsuits in Harris County, Texas, charging that Norwegian energy company, Equinor, and related oil and gas entities have systematically short-changed royalty owners in the Eagle Ford Shale.
The Beaumont-based law firm is representing more than 200 royalty owners who accuse Equinor, formerly known as Statoil, of manipulating numbers and engaging in questionable accounting practices. The plaintiffs include Rayanne Regmund Chesser and Gloria Janssen, who previously sought class-action status against Equinor’s joint-venture partner Repsol USA, formerly known as Talisman.
“Equinor disregarded both express and implied provisions of its lease agreements with royalty owners and entered into sham transactions with its own sales and marketing companies in order to manipulate the price paid on oil and gas production since 2013,” said Provost Umphrey attorney and lead counsel Bryan O. Blevins, Jr. “These transactions – combined with runaway cost deductions – caused royalty owners to be left holding the short stick by a company that they trusted would pay them what they were rightfully owed.”
Equinor/Statoil entered the Texas oil and gas market in 2010 by acquiring leases and wells in the Eagle Ford Shale under a joint venture with Repsol/Talisman. The joint venture eventually included 4,000 royalty owners, 2,800 oil and gas leases covering 59,000 net acres and 494 producing wells.
Provost Umphrey believes Equinor/Statoil engaged in practices that violate not only the express and implied terms of royalty owner leases but also the Texas Natural Resources Code. The lawsuits further allege that Equinor/Statoil and its related entities committed fraud and conversion and engaged in a civil conspiracy to deprive royalty owners of their rightful payments.
“Our clients have been systematically and intentionally underpaid by Equinor/Statoil for their mineral rights, and our goal is to make sure that the appropriate parties are held accountable,” says Blevins.