Oil & Gas Despacing Cases Massey Mass Action Despacing Cases
Competing Oil Wells -- One Was Plugged
During the last oil boom in the early 1980”s, we were retained by W. T. “Bud” Massey to represent over a thousand of his landowner lessors in what came to be known as the Despacing Cases. In Mitchell DeClerck’s 120 plus years we’ve seen a number of these “booms” followed by crashes. Fact is we’re seeing another today.
Massey had obtained oil and gas leases (the “Top Leases”) on hundreds of thousands of acres of farm land from Northwest Oklahoma farmers that would only be good if existing leases expired (the “Bottom Leases”). Massey's Top Leases paid a much higher royalty to the farmers than did the oil companies Bottom Leases.
Massey then successfully sought and obtained court orders to cancel the Bottom Leases which big oil companies had been sitting on for decades to the detriment of the farmers. The last case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
When the Supreme Court's Order was issued on the First Monday of October in 1982, all hell broke loose and the oil companies filed dozens of lawsuits against Massey and thousands of his lessors – and our clients – in a last ditch effort to keep their Bottom Leases.. Since oil was then well over $100 a barrel in today’s dollars, a gold rush also ensued with oil companies seeking to drill wells to extract the expensive oil to the benefit of themselves by paying a much lower royalty rate to the mineral owners farmers.
Typically the big oil companies tried a myriad of ploys and subterfuges to stop Massey but against overwhelming odds eventually the United States Supreme Court approved what Massey had done.
One big oil company attempted to keep one of its leases – after decades of inaction – by drilling a well shown on the right. Massey called its bluff by drilling a competing well a block away knowing if he lost, it would cost him half a million dollars because his well would have to be plugged. It wasn’t. Massey prevailed.
The litigation was a complex and interesting one in which we were called upon to manage and organize thousands of pleadings affecting more than a thousand clients in dozens of cases – all before personal computers were widely used. A Herculean effort but successful nonetheless.
We were honored to help Bud Massey and his many friends stand up to Big Oil. So if you have a similar major problem: