EnerVest Operating, LLC, et al. v. Sebastian Mining, LLC, No. 11-1985 (8th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
This case involved the property rights to coal bed methane gas (CBM) produced from certain lands located in Sebastian County, Arkansas. The original holder of fee simple absolute title to the lands (Grantor) conveyed surface and coal rights in 1965 via an instrument the parties referred to as the Garland Deed. Coal Owner acquired those rights effective April 30, 2010. However, three years before the grant of the coal rights, in 1962, Grantor had conveyed an undivided one-half interest in all oil, gas, and other mineral rights except coal via an instrument known as the Wheeler Deed. In 1976, Grantor conveyed its second undivided one-half interest via an instrument known as the Texas & Pacific Deed. Gas Owners were the successors-in-interest to the rights Grantor conveyed in the Wheeler and Texas & Pacific Deeds. EnerVest entered into various oil and gas leases and contracts with Coal Owner and Gas Owners to produce CBM from the lands and initiated this interpleader action seeking a ruling as to whether Coal Owner or Gas Owners were entitled to the CBM royalties. The parties moved for summary judgment on a stipulated record that included the Wheeler, Garland, and Texas & Pacific Deeds. The court affirmed the district court's holding that Gas Owners were entitled to the CBM royalties where the plain language of the deeds broadly conveyed to Gas Owners all rights to oil, gas, and other mineral resources.