Jonathan A. Hunter Shareholder, New Orleans
Mr. Hunter represents oil and gas companies. His practice includes litigation before federal and state courts and agencies, statutory and regulatory counseling, and contract preparation and review.
As leader of the firm’s federal oil and gas practice area, Mr. Hunter provides advice and representation pertaining to the major federal statutes and regulations governing oil and gas activities on federal lands. These include the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Mineral Leasing Act, the False Claims Act, the Oil Pollution Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act, the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Simplification and Fairness Act, the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Foreign Investment and National Security Act, and related regulations. Mr. Hunter has represented federal lessees in numerous judicial proceedings, including actions brought pursuant to the False Claims Act, actions for judicial review of final Interior Department decisions, challenges to federal regulations, actions for immediate injunctive relief, and citizen’s suits challenging the administration of the offshore leasing program. In addition, he has defended federal oil and gas lessees in more than 150 administrative appeals relating to royalty claims, lease suspensions, lease maintenance, operational requirements, Incidents of Noncompliance (INCs), and civil penalty assessments.
Mr. Hunter’s experience also extends to oil and gas issues arising under state law, including the interpretation of joint operating agreements, payment of royalties, lease maintenance, lease development, assignment of lease interests, and intrastate pipeline regulatory matters. He has tried royalty, contract, and expropriation disputes in federal and state courts and in arbitration.
Mr. Hunter’s notable cases include:
Federal Leasing Cases
Oceana v. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42656; 44 ELR 20070 (D.D.C. 2014) (rejected challenge to environmental reviews conducted in conjunction with Gulf of Mexico Lease Sales 218 and 216/222 and held that such reviews complied with the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedure Act).
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Salazar, No. 2:11-cv-01474 (W.D. La.) (settled) (challenging final Department of the Interior decision denying request for suspension of production for deep water unit).
Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Corp. v. U.S. Dep’t of Interior, 554 F.3d 1082 (5th Cir. 2009) (argued) (held "price threshold" lease provisions inserted by Department of the Interior violated the the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act and were therefore unenforceable).
United States ex. rel. Little v. Eni Petroleum, Co., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61942 (W.D. Okla. 2007) (granting motion to dismiss federal royalty qui tam action).
Santa Fe Snyder Corp. v. Norton, 385 F.3d 884 (5th Cir. 2004) (argued) (held Department of the Interior regulations that imposed volumetric limitations on deep water royalty relief violated the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act and were therefore unenforceable).
Shell Offshore Inc. v. Babbitt, 238 F.3d 622 (5th Cir. 2001) (obtained reversal of Interior refusal to allow tariff-based transportation allowances in calculating offshore royalty payments).
Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Johnson, 22 F.3d 616 (5th Cir. 1994) (successfully challenged Interior’s reliance on internal manual to value natural gas liquids for royalty purposes).
BP Exploration & Production Inc., 172 IBLA 372 (2007) (obtained 85% reduction in civil penalty assessment arising from offshore INCs).
Conoco Inc., MMS-98-0164-OCS (2001) (established that OCSLA Section 6 lessee was entitled to deduct gas processing costs in computing natural gas royalties).
Amoco Production Co., MMS-99-0053-O&G (2001) (reversed MMS royalty payment order disallowing the deduction of transportation costs and directing payment on flash gas volumes).
Amoco Production Co., 148 IBLA 255 (1999) (reversed MMS order that required lessee to pay natural gas royalties based on affiliated purchaser's resale price).
Additional Oil and Gas Cases
Bois D’Arc Energy, Inc. v. BHP Billiton Petroleum (Deepwater), Inc., 2008 WL 2080747 (E.D. La.) (5/16/08) (obtained summary judgment dismissing claim for breach of contract and liquidated damages arising from offshore oil and gas contract).
Weyerhaeuser Co. v. Hinton, 225 Fed. Appx. 332 (5th Cir. 2007) (argued) (defeated claim that Louisiana mineral servitude had prescribed)
Board of Commissioners v. Estate of Elizabeth Smith, 881 So. 2d 811 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2004) (defeated challenge by Orleans Levee Board to mineral lessees' fifty-year ownership of leasing rights affecting Stone Island).
Acadian Gas Pipeline System v. Bourgeois, 890 So. 2d 634 (La. App. 5th Cir. 2004) (expropriation of servitude for pre-existing pipeline on landowner’s land)
PennzEnergy Co. v. Wells, 31 Fed. Appx. 158 (5th Cir. 2001) (obtained summary judgment defeating claim for royalties under Louisiana law).
Mr. Hunter is a frequent lecturer and organizer for energy law programs, including those presented by the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, for which he has served as a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee. Mr. Hunter has also taught courses on basic Oil and Gas Law and Federal Offshore Oil and Gas Law at the Tulane University and Louisiana State University law schools.