Printable Version

Spring 2014
5327 Practice of Law in the Oil & Gas Industry - BORTKA- 23292

Professor(s): Lynn Bortka (ADJUNCT)

Credits: 3

Course Areas: Energy, Natural Resources and Environmental Law 

Time: 7:30p-9:00p  MW  Location: TUII-211 

Course Outline: Houston is the “Oil Capital of the World”. Nearly all major and large independent oil and gas companies have offices in Houston. Hundreds of oil-business related companies call Houston “home”. Texas, as well as Houston, have perpetual needs for lawyers who understand how the oil and gas industry works and who are able to identify issues and offer practical legal solutions for the industry’s problems.

Nine million Americans are employed directly or indirectly in the oil and gas business. The United States is the world’s third largest producer of hydrocarbons with over 500,000 active wells operated by 18,000 oil and gas companies. There are 162,000 service stations, hundreds of thousands of miles of pipelines and 141 refineries operating in the United States. America has 3,800 offshore platforms producing oil and gas; nearly all of which are in the Gulf of Mexico. The industry is a behemoth.

Major stakeholders in the oil and gas business include landowners; developers; royalty owners; realtors; banks; local, state, and federal governments; foreign governments; regulatory agencies; non-governmental organizations; and shipping companies. Business men, accountants, economists, geologists, engineers, environmental scientists, public officials, and lawyers represent only a few of the professionals that make full time careers in the oil business or find themselves in positions to regularly and professionally interact with and represent people who do so.

The oil industry created and continues to use an extensive, unique, and colorful language that can confuse and impede those outside of the oil-patch. The most successful lawyers in this industry understand the business and its language and are able to identify legal issues that arise from the well-site to the gas pump. Clients gravitate toward lawyers that can speak their language and help them solve problems.

This course teaches oil industry business basics and terminology. It teaches basic concepts of exploration, production, pipeline operation and refining that are known by the majority of operating and business people working in those groups. Knowing these basics will equip the lawyer to better negotiate and advocate for his or her client and more easily identify legal issues, opportunities, causes of action, and remedies.

Oil companies often take opposing positions with respect to environmental protection, employment law, health and safety, use of independent contractors, risk taking, and regulatory and legislative advocacy. Knowing how and why these positions are taken, and the legal risks associated with each position help company-lawyers best serve their clients. Knowing these business and legal rationales also benefits lawyers collaborating with, or working in opposition to, the oil companies such as trial attorneys, regulatory attorneys, and lawyers from non-governmental organizations.

The student should complete the course with an appreciation of how the entire industry “works”, be able to identify legal issues that typically arise in numerous business disputes and opportunities, and be better prepared to assist his or her client with optimal legal solutions to those matters.

Course Syllabus: Syllabus revised 1/8/2014

Course Notes:   This is an LL.M class, and JD students may register, if space is available.

Prerequisites:  Per professor, This course is NOT a substitute for Oil & Gas Law.

First Day Assignments: First Day Assignment

Final Exam Schedule: 05/03 9am-Noon  240 TU2  215 TU2  

This course will have:

Satisfies Skills Course Requirement: No
Satisfies Senior Upper Level Writing Requirement: No

Experiential Course Type:

Bar Course: