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At the Well Weekly (v.7.24.2020)

Oil + Gas Update | Mid-Summer Roundup.

After two months off, we're back at the well for our mid-summer roundup. The oil and gas industry has faced challenges over the past several months, battling the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the U.S. and global economies, dealing with depressed markets, and defending an ever increasing number of suits sponsored by environmental organizations that are waging war on natural gas development nationwide. The headlines since our last report:

  • Oil prices tanked and then "rebounded" to just above $40/bbl as of last week.

  • The rig count hit a record low in early July.

  • Gas prices on the spot market haven't consistently exceeded $2/MMBtu for some time. The monthly average for the first half of the year lingered around $1.80/MMBtu and prices in June averaged around $1.60/MMBtu. Prices in Appalachia fared no better, dropping to $1.15/MMBtu at one location as of last week.

  • Chesapeake Energy, a pioneer in shale gas development, filed for Chapter 11.

  • The Atlantic Coast Pipeline project is no more after project sponsors pulled the plug due to significant cost overruns and regulatory/litigation expenses, calling into question the future of other projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline and PennEast Pipeline, although those companies have vowed to move forward.

  • Federal judges have issued decisions affecting major pipelines like Dakota Access and Keystone XL based on alleged shortcomings in the environmental protection category.

  • The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has taken an aggressive approach towards the industry by issuing a Grand Jury Report on the alleged failures of regulatory oversight in the Commonwealth and pursuing criminal prosecutions against gas companies for conduct traditionally regulated by DEP.

Meanwhile, courts in Appalachia and elsewhere have grappled with the usual oil and gas lease issues, regulatory issues, climate change, and a blend of other types of cases.

Here's your mid-summer roundup...

Rig Counts, Spot Prices + Oil Prices

  • Rigs: National (-251); Marcellus (-25); Utica/Point Pleasant (6)

  • Brent Crude: -$43.34/bbl

  • West Texas Intermediate: -$41.29/bbl

  • NYMEX: August 2020 @ -$1.681/MMBtu.

  • Spot Prices: Henry Hub (-$1.64/MMBtu); Dominion South (-$1.24/MMBtu); Tenn. Zone 4 (-$1.15/MMBtu)

("+" or "-" or blank denotes increase, decrease, or flat. )

WOPL - Appalachia

In our new section, WOPL ("waiting on pipelines"), we provide the latest news on the status of various pipeline projects in Appalachia.

  • Adelphia Project (Greater Philadelphia Region): FERC issued a certificate of public convenience to construct the pipeline company's expansion project, and the federal court in Philadelphia issued condemnation orders for properties along the route to begin construction.

  • Atlantic Coast (W. Va. to Va. and NC): Following a win at the U.S. Supreme Court and ensuing attacks by environmental groups alleging that agencies should conduct further environmental impact reviews, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline sponsors cancelled the project, citing significant cost overruns and delays engendered by legal, litigation, and regulatory challenges.

  • Atlantic Sunrise (Northeastern PA to SE Pennsylvania): Nothing new to report.

  • Constitution (Northeastern PA to NY): Nothing new to report.

  • Dakota Access (Northwest US): A federal court ordered that Dakota Access shut down pending additional and more rigorous environmental reviews. The company managed to secure a stay pending appeal from the circuit court such that the pipeline can operate while the appellate court hears the appeal.

  • Empire Pipeline (NY to PA): Nothing new to report.

  • Keystone Pipeline (Canada/US): A federal court enjoined the Army Corps' Nationwide Permit that many pipeline project sponsors secure for water crossings, holding that the longstanding permit doesn't adequately protect endangered species. The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the order as it relates to existing projects but not as to Keystone.

  • Leidy South - Benton Loop Expansion (PA): FERC approved Transco's Leidy South expansion in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

  • Mariner East (Western PA to Eastern PA): Sunoco faces more challenges as sinkholes emerged along the Mariner East pipeline route this month.

  • Mountaineer XPress (WV): The Mountaineer XPress pipeline in West Virginia returned to service and boosted gas production.

  • Mountain Valley Pipeline (Northern WV to Southern Va. and NC): Despite the challenges facing many pipeline projects, MVP is moving forward with construction and planned operations.

  • NEXUS (Ohio to Michigan): Nothing new to report.

  • NFG (PA): The Pennsylvania Attorney General filed criminal charges against NFG and its sub for a spill that previously only led to a $6K penalty from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

  • NFG FM100 Project (NC PA to Transco): Nothing new to report.

  • Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NJ/NY): Nothing new to report.

  • Northern Access (NW PA to Western NY): Nothing new to report.

  • Norther Supply Access Project (Appalachia to Gulf Coast): Nothing new to report.

  • PennEast (PA to Central Jersey): The briefing closed on PennEast's bid to have the Supreme Court upend a Third Circuit ruling that prohibits pipeline companies from condemning properties in which states have an interest. PennEast vows to move forward with its project despite the legal and regulatory challenges that pipeline projects around the country face.

  • Regional Energy Access (NE PA to PA/NJ): Nothing new to report.

  • Revolution Pipeline (PA): Nothing new to report.

  • Rover (OH, WV, PA to Michigan): Nothing new to report.

  • TransCanada Eastern Panhandle Project (PA to WV): Nothing new to report.

Headlines & Holdings - Appalachia

  • PA Superior Court Says Lessee not Liable for Lease Broker’s Activities. The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld a trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of a lessee and rejected arguments that the lessee’s broker improperly backdated and notarized the parties’ lease outside the lessor’s presence, holding that the jury would be speculating about vicarious liability because there was no dispute that the lessee ultimately had to approve the lease and therefore could not be liable for any alleged misconduct of the broker based on a master-servant or other agency theory. Wiedenhoft v. Chief Exploration & Development LLC, --- A.3d ---, No. 910 WDA 2019, 2020 WL 3057989 (Pa. Super. June 8, 2020).

  • Commonwealth Court Holds that Boiler Inspections, but not Investigations, are Subject to Disclosure Under the Right to Know Law. The Commonwealth Court held that the Department of Labor & Industry’s records of regular boiler and pressure vessel inspections are subject to public disclosure but its investigation records are non-criminal agency investigations that are exempt from public disclosure. Pa. Dep’t of Labor & Ind. v. Darlington, --- A.3d ---, No. 1583 C.D. 2019, 2020 WL 3053980 (Pa. Cmwlth. June 9, 2020).

  • Gas Purchase Agreement Dispute Survives in PA Federal Court. A federal judge in Pennsylvania denied a bid to dismiss a claim that a hospital breached a gas purchase and supply agreement by not paying for certain agreed-upon quantities of natural gas the hospital received and used during 2018 and 2019. Snyder Bros., Inc. v. East Ohio Regional Hospital at Martin’s Ferry, Inc., --- F. Supp. 3d ---, No. CV 19-1238, 2020 WL 3104056 (W.D. Pa. June 11, 2020).

  • Board of Property has Jurisdiction to Decide “Navigability.” The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that the Board of Property has jurisdiction to determine the “navigability” of a stream, which determines ownership of streambeds and underlying oil and gas. Beishline v. PADEP, --- A.3d ---, No. 719 CD 2019 (Pa. Cmwlth. June 12, 2020).

  • WV Supreme Court Says EQT Lacks Surface Rights for Developing Neighboring Tracts. The Supreme Court of West Virginia concluded that EQT could not use the surface area of the plaintiffs’ property to drill wells and produce gas from neighboring lands, reasoning that EQT had a bad lease that a court invalidated in a default judgment more than 36 years ago that could not be revived by an ensuing ratification. EQT Prod. Co. v. Brian Taschler, --- S.E.3d ---, No. 19-0370, 2020 WL 3407766 (W. Va. June 18, 2020).

  • PA Federal Court Says Contract Remedies Trump Unjust Enrichment/Quantum Meruit for Pipeline Work. A federal judge in Pennsylvania concluded that a contractor performing work on a pipeline project could not state claims for unjust enrichment or quantum meruit when the parties have an express contract in place. C.J. Hughes Construction Co., Inc. v. EQM Gathering OPCO, LLC, --- F. Supp. 3d ---, No. 2:18-CV-168, 2020 WL 3448383 (W.D. Pa. June 24, 2020).

  • NY Court of Appeals Says NGA Certificate Exempts Pipeline Company from Notice/Hearing Requirements of Eminent Domain Code Despite Lack of Section 401 Water Quality Certification. The New York Court of Appeals held that NFG Supply’s certificate granted by FERC under the Natural Gas Act, which did not condition the company’s eminent domain power on the receipt of a Section 401 water quality certification that the state denied in the interim, exempted the company from public notice and hearing provisions of the state’s eminent domain procedural code. Nat’l Fuel Gas Supply Corp. v. Schueckler, --- N.Y. ---, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 03563, 2020 WL 3453939 (N.Y. June 25, 2020).

  • Va. Court Rejects Trespass Claim Against MVP. The Virginia Supreme Court rejected an appeal from an order denying trespass claims against MVP for bringing its surveyors onto property on the wrong day without the landowner's consent. West v. Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, No. 191014, 2020 WL 3618943 (Va. July 2, 2020).

  • Value of Oil and Gas Leases Controls Amount in Controversy for Diversity Jurisdiction. A federal court in Pennsylvania denied a motion to remand where the amount in controversy between diverse parties, based on bonus payments and royalties paid, exceeds the statutory minimum. Kopko v. Range Resources – Appalachia, LLC, --- F. Supp. 3d ---, No. 2:20-CV-00423-MJH, 2020 WL 3496277 (W.D. Pa. June 29, 2020).

  • DC Circuit Cans FERC Tolling Orders. The D.C. Circuit invalidated FERC’s tolling order practice that gave the agency more than 30 days to decide rehearing petitions without suffering a deemed denial for failing to act, siding with landowners and other groups who argued that the practice improperly gave project sponsors the ability to proceed with construction until FERC ruled on rehearing requests. Allegheny Def. Project v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm'n, No. 17-1098, 2020 WL 3525547 (D.C. Cir. June 30, 2020). FERC asked for and received a stay pending a SCOTUS appeal.

  • Fourth Circuit Sends Back Pipeline Dispute for More Reasoning. The Fourth Circuit remanded a summary decision denying with prejudice a request to amend a trespass complaint after a plaintiff sought leave to seek damages following a project sponsor’s condemnation of disputed areas for pipeline construction. Moore v. Equitrans, L.P., No. 19-1065, 2020 WL 3484067 (4th Cir. June 26, 2020).

  • Commonwealth Court Shuts Down Zoning Challenge to Gas Wells. The Commonwealth Court rejected various arguments by environmental groups that zoning approvals subject to numerous conditions violated Article I, sec. 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Protect PT, Appellant v. Penn Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd. & Olympus Energy LLC, --- A.3d ---, No. 575 C.D. 2019, 2020 WL 3640001 (Pa. Cmwlth. July 6, 2020).

  • Enviros Lack Standing to Compel EPA COVID-19 Monitoring Policy. A federal judge in New York’s southern district dismissed a petition for a rulemaking that would compel any regulated entity that suspended environmental monitoring requirements during the pandemic to report to EPA and the public, concluding that the petitioners sought only to vindicate a procedural right and therefore the petitioners lacked Article III standing. Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA, --- F. Supp. 3d ---, No. 20 CIV. 3058 (CM), 2020 WL 3838017 (S.D.N.Y. July 8, 2020).

  • NY Federal Judge Says Town’s Building Permit Requirement Preempted by NGA. A federal judge in New York held that the Town of Pendleton’s building permit requirements are preempted by the Natural Gas Act and FERC’s approval of the gas pipeline project. Empire Pipeline, Inc. & NFG Supply Corp. v. Town of Pendleton, --- F. Supp. 3d ---, No. 17-CV-141S, 2020 WL 3972315 (W.D.N.Y. July 14, 2020).

  • Federal Court Declines to Dismiss Royalty Claims. A federal court in Ohio denied a motion to dismiss a claim alleging improper royalty payments, holding that industry customs should inform how to calculate royalty payments on certain unencumbered acreage and that the lessee had no right to withhold payment based on the lack of a division order because it would force the plaintiff to agree to a change in its percentage share. Profit Energy Co. v. Gulfport Energy Corp., No. 2:19-CV-3487, 2020 WL 4226508 (S.D. Ohio July 23, 2020).

Headlines & Holdings - Beyond Appalachia

  • Midstream Docs are Fair Game for Discovery in OK Royalty Row. A federal court in Oklahoma ordered that a lessee facing royalty and post-production claims should turn over documents with midstream service providers regarding marketable condition of gas or marketable products, title transfer points, and off-lease fuel use. Hay Creek v. Roan Resources, --- F. Supp. 3d ---, No. 19-CV-177-CVE-JFJ, 2020 WL 2850902 (N.D. Okla. June 2, 2020).

  • No Transfer of Pipeline Dispute from TX to OK. A federal court in Texas denied a bid to transfer a dispute over pipeline construction to Oklahoma, holding that as between two potential venues, the federal court in Oklahoma is not a clearly more convenient venue than the federal courts in Texas. Venable''s Construction Inc. v. Oneok Arbuckle II Pipeline, LLC, --- F. Supp. 3d ---, No. 2:20-CV-018-Z-BR, 2020 WL 2841398 (N.D. Tex. June 1, 2020).

  • Texas Appellate Court Says O+G Company Need Not Pay Location Damages Under Surface Agreement. A court of appeals in Texas denied a bid for location damages under a surface agreement, holding that under the plain language of the agreement the operator had no obligation to pay location damages until after it completed construction of part of the project. Evans Resources, L.P. v. Diamondback E&P, LLC, --- S.W.3d ---, No. 11-18-00128-CV, 2020 WL 2838529 (Tex. App. May 29, 2020).

  • First Circuit Invalidates Air Permit for Pipeline. The First Circuit held that the Massachusetts DEP did not follow its own established procedures for assessing whether an electric motor was the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for a pipeline project. Town of Weymouth, Massachusetts v. Massachusetts Dep't of Envtl. Prot., --- F.3d ---, No. 19-1794, 2020 WL 2904672 (1st Cir. June 3, 2020).

  • Sixth Circuit Rejects Challenge to PHMSA Approval of Pipeline Spill Plan. The Sixth Circuit reversed an order in favor of environmental organizations challenging PHMSA's approvals of two oil spill response plans for a pipeline spanning 641 miles from Wisconsin to Canada, holding that the spill plans did not trigger PHMSA's obligations under the Endangered Species Act or NEPA either to consult with environmental agencies before taking action that could affect endangered species or habitat or to prepare an EIS under NEPA to account for environmental issues. National Wildlife Federation v. Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, --- F.3d ---, No. 19-1609, 2020 WL 3026541 (6th Cir. June 5, 2020).

  • Rhode Island Seizes on Climate Change Orders to Support Remand Bid. Rhode Island told the First Circuit that the recent decisions from the Ninth Circuit remanding to state court climate change cases against major oil and gas companies should apply to the state’s suit to recover infrastructure damages from Chevron and other companies.

  • Florida State Court Judge Tosses Kids’ Climate Change Suit. A state judge in Florida held that the courts can’t decide claims brought by a group of kids against local officials alleging that they violated state constitutional rights to a safe environment by promoting fossil fuel use despite knowing its climate change impacts.

  • Kids Insist Flint Ruling in Sixth Circuit Supports Revival of Climate Change Case Against Feds. In a Rule 28(j) letter, the kids claiming that the federal government has endangered their future by hiding the negative effects of climate change while promoting a fossil-fuel based energy policy invoked a recent decision from the Sixth Circuit that Michigan officials must face Flint water crisis claims, arguing that the Flint decision supports the kids’ reargument bid after they lost the case in the Ninth Circuit on Article III standing grounds.

  • NY Federal Court Dismisses Oil + Gas Market Manipulation Claims. A federal court in New York dismissed claims against Total alleging that the company manipulated the market and thereby inflated prices for gas sales to the plaintiff, holding that the alleged manipulation of a futures market did not state a legally sufficient antitrust claim. City of Long Beach v. Total Gas & Power North America, Inc., --- F. Supp. 3d ---, No. 19 CIV. 8725 (LAK), 2020 WL 3057796 (S.D.N.Y. June 8, 2020).

  • Wash. Appellate Court Upholds Conviction of Protester Over "Necessity" Defense. A court of appeals in Washington upheld a criminal trespass conviction of an individual who protested the delivery of oil and coal by railcars while standing on a railway company's mainline tracks and refused to leave when directed by law enforcement, rejecting the notion that a person engaged in civil disobedience may assert a necessity defense when charged with violating constitutional laws and holding that the defendant had reasonable legal alternatives to protest other than trespassing on railway tracks and obstructing a train, even if those alternatives had not brought about timely legislative changes as alleged. State of Washington v. Spokane County District Court, --- P.3d ---, No. 36506-9-III, 2020 WL 3097460 (Wash. Ct. App. June 9, 2020).

  • OK Federal Court Denies Bid to Dismiss Some Royalty/PPC Claims. A federal court in Oklahoma denied motions to dismiss royalty/ORRI and accounting claims against a lessee, holding that the lessor stated claims for improper deductions under the "marketable product" rule that applies in Oklahoma, even though some leases lacked express language prohibiting deductions. Sultan Oil Co. v. Trinity Operating (USG), LLC, --- F. Supp. 3d ---, No. CIV-19-175-CBG, 2020 WL 3106313, at *4 (N.D. Okla. June 11, 2020).

  • DC District Court Reinstates Oil + Gas Lease Cancellation. The federal district court in D.C. reinstated oil and gas lease cancellations for leases in the Badger-Two Medicine Area, an area of unique cultural, religious, spiritual, historical, and environmental significance, for the Interior Department's failure to conduct the proper pre-lease analyses required under NEPA and the National Historic Preservation Act. Solenex LLC v. Bernhardt, --- F. Supp. 3d ---, No. 18-5343, 2020 WL 3244004 (D.C. Cir. June 16, 2020).

  • TX Appeals Court Unravels Royalty Provision to Decide Payment Claims. A court of appeals in Texas interpreted a "unique" royalty provision and held that the lessees could account for its lessor's proportionate share of post-production costs specified in the leases and do not need to pay royalties on (1) amounts deducted from a sales price without a stated purpose, (2) volumes of gas which are used by appellants for their own operations and never sold, (3) volumes of gas which are deemed to be lost or unaccounted for by third parties, or (4) the excess value retained by processors as a result of applying predetermined factors to measure how much of each liquid hydrocarbon is recovered. Devon Energy Production Co. v. Sheppard, --- S.W.3d ---, No. 13-19-00036-CV, 2020 WL 3478680 (Tex. App. June 25, 2020).

  • KY Appellate Court Decides When Oil + Gas Lease Covers Production of Liquid Hydrocarbons. A court of appeals in Kentucky held that when parties operating under unitized gas leases incidentally produce other liquid hydrocarbons from a gas well, the gas lease may entitle lessors to royalties from the production of those non-gas hydrocarbons, but when the production of other hydrocarbons is not incidental to the gas production, then those proceeds are not covered by the gas lease. Thoroughbred Associates, L.L.C. v. Kansas City Royalty Company, L.L.C., --- S.W.3d ---, No. 120,068, 2020 WL 3481512 (Kan. Ct. App. June 26, 2020).

  • KY Court Invokes State's "Marketable Product" Rule to Decide Royalty Dispute. A court of appeals in Kentucky held that, under the marketable product rule, when the parties to an oil + gas lease have expressly agreed that the gas will be sold on the interstate market, the gas company cannot deduct expenses required to make the gas marketable for the interstate market even though it is in marketable condition before that point of delivery. Cooper Clark Foundation v. OXY USA, Inc., --- S.W.3d ---, No. 120,371, 2020 WL 3481429 (Kan. Ct. App. June 26, 2020).

  • TX Court of Appeals Holds that NPRI is Subject to Post-Production-Cost Sharing. A court of appeals in Texas held that a non-participating royalty interest conveyed by deed did not prohibit the deduction of post-production costs for gathering and compression, holding that the royalty interest by its express terms creates a standard royalty subject to postproduction costs. Bluestone Natural Resources II, LLC v. Nettye Engler Energy, LP, --- S.W.3d ---, No. 02-19-00236-CV, 2020 WL 3865269 (Tex. App. July 9, 2020).

  • Federal Judge Shuts Down Dakota Access. A federal judge ordered Dakota Access to shut down and drain its oil pending a new environmental impact statement and denied a bid to stay the order even though a shutdown could cost North Dakota billions, throw thousands out of work, and make oil transportation less safe. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, --- F. Supp. 3d ---, No. CV 16-1534 (JEB), 2020 WL 3634426 (D.D.C. July 6, 2020). Ultimately, the appellate court stayed the order pending appeal.

  • Arizona Appellate Court Addresses Definition of "Minerals." A court of appeals in Arizona interpreted a reservation of "stone, rock, sand, and clay" against another provision authorizing the grantor to take "stone, rock, sand, and clay when necessary or convenient to the process of extracting minerals from the property" and concluded that "stone, rock, sand, and clay" could not qualify as "minerals" that can be extracted by the separate holder of the mineral estate under the deed. Paulden Industrial LLC v. Big Chino Materials, LLC, --- S.W.3d ---, No. 1 CA-CV 19-0436, 2020 WL 3967965 (Ariz. Ct. App. July 14, 2020).

  • Eighth Circuit Says Debtor Required to Pay a "Promote Obligation" that Runs with the Land Under E&D Agreement. The Eighth Circuit upheld a declaratory judgment that imposed upon a debtor the obligation to pay its 10% share of drilling and related costs per well under an exploration and development agreement, holding that the covenant ran with the land such that the debtor could not discharge the agreement in bankruptcy. Slawson Expl. Co., Inc. v. Nine Point Energy, LLC, --- F.3d ---, No. 19-1945, 2020 WL 4045292 (8th Cir. July 20, 2020).

  • Tenth Circuit Sends Climate Change Case Back to State Court. Boulder Colorado may proceed in state court with its climate-related, infrastructure-damage case against the majors following a Tenth Circuit decision that rejected the arguments of energy companies to keep the case in federal court. Bd. of Cty. Commissioners of Boulder Cty. v. Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc., No. 19-1330, 2020 WL 3777996 (10th Cir. July 7, 2020).

  • Baltimore Urges High Court to Reject Federal Jurisdiction Over Climate Change Cases. Baltimore City argued in a brief filed with SCOTUS that the Fourth Circuit got it right when it rejected the “federal officer removal” basis for federal jurisdiction over climate change cases brought by municipalities against major energy companies. In response, Exxon and other majors told SCOTUS that Baltimore is downplaying a split among the circuits over whether district courts rather than state courts should oversee Baltimore's lawsuit alleging the companies are liable for costs incurred from dealing with climate change.

  • Exxon Removes DC’s Climate Change Case to Federal Court. In the latest climate change case, Exxon removed DC’s suit accusing the company and other majors of deceiving consumers about climate-change-related risks, arguing that the suit aims to curb fossil fuel use, not to address consumer fraud.

  • The Phrase "Actual Drilling Operations" is Ambiguous, ND Supreme Court Holds. The Supreme Court of North Dakota held that the phrase "actual drilling operations" in the continuous development provision of an oil and gas lease is ambiguous, rejecting the trial court's definition of the phrase as requiring "placing the drill bit in the ground and penetrating the soil," and remanded for further proceedings to resolve the ambiguity. Hess Bakken Investments II, LLC v. AgriBank, FCB, --- N.W.3d ---, No.20190352, 2020 ND 172, 2020 WL 4218029 (N.D. July 23, 2020).

  • Pipeline Operator in Wyoming Didn't Comply With Eminent Domain Code's Good-Faith Negotiation Requirement. The Wyoming Supreme Court held that a pipeline operator had the obligation to engage in good-faith negotiations before condemning a 70-acre area for a pipeline easement, rejecting the argument that prior, failed negotiations between the operator and the landowner for a surface use agreement satisfied the statutory requirement. EOG Res., Inc. v. Floyd C. Reno & Sons, Inc., --- N.W.3d ---, No. 2020 WY 95, 2020 WL 4218031 (Wyo. July 23, 2020).

  • Colo. Appellate Court Resolves Dispute over Conveyance of Mineral Interest in Favor of Grantee. A court of appeals in Colorado interpreted a reservation of "one-half interest in the mineral estate" as reserving a total one-half interest in the minerals for the grantor and conveyed the other half to the grantee's predecessors-in-interest despite competing interpretations, relying on the longstanding rule of construction that ambiguities in a deed are construed in favor of the grantee. Moeller v. Ferrari Energy, LLC, 2020 COA 113, 2020 WL 4211739 (Colo. Ct. App. July 23, 2020).

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