Jonathan
Jonathan A. Hunter
Shareholder, New Orleans
Assistant
One Shell Square
701 Poydras Street
Suite 5000
New Orleans, Louisiana 70139

Overview

Jonathan Hunter devotes his practice full time to representing oil and gas companies.  Utilizing experience acquired through thirty years of litigation, negotiation, and counseling, Jonathan advises major and independent E&P companies on a wide variety of matters, including those that involve the following federal statutes:

  • the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Mineral Leasing Act

  • the False Claims Act

  • the Oil Pollution Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act

  • the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act and the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act

  • the National Historic Preservation Act

  • the Foreign Investment and National Security Act

Whether challenging regulatory enforcement actions, intervening in citizen suits brought under federal environmental statutes, or defending qui tam cases brought under the False Claims Act, Jonathan has an established track record of achieving excellent results for the firm’s clients, including in multi-billion dollar royalty, lease cancelation, and fraud claims.  Sample cases involving federal offshore and onshore leases include:

  • Abbott v. BP Expl. & Prod. Inc., 851 F.3d 384 (5th Cir. 2017) (defeated qui tam claim alleging false certification of compliance with regulatory engineering standards for the semi-submersible Atlantis platform).

  • Oceana v. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42656; 44 ELR 20070 (D.D.C. 2014) (held that environmental reviews conducted in conjunction with Gulf of Mexico Lease Sales 218 and 216/222 complied with the Endangered Species Act, NEPA, and the APA).

  • 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 that the Department of the Interior violated the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act by inserting "price threshold" conditions into deep water Gulf of Mexico leases).

  • United States ex. rel. Little v. Eni Petroleum, Co., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61942 (W.D. Okla. 2007) (dismissed 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).

  • Shell Offshore Inc. v. Babbitt, 238 F.3d 622 (5th Cir. 2001) (reversed Interior Department’s refusal to allow tariff-based transportation allowances).

Jonathan’s experience also extends to oil and gas issues arising under state law, including the interpretation of oil and gas leases and joint operating agreements, payment of royalties, lease maintenance, and lease development. He has tried royalty, contract, and expropriation disputes in federal and state courts and in arbitration.  Sample cases involving state law oil and gas issues include:

  • Guilbeau v. Hess Corp., __ F.3d ___ (5th Cir. 2017) (argued) (affirming summary judgment applying Louisiana’s “subsequent purchaser doctrine” in oilfield contamination (legacy) dispute)

  • 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).

  • 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).

A graduate of Yale College and the Louisiana State University Law Center, Jonathan has written and lectured extensively on offshore and onshore oil and gas subjects.  Jonathan chaired the committee that created the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation’s Short Course on Federal Offshore Oil & Gas Leasing And Development, and he is currently the Foundation’s President.  He has been listed in both Chambers USA America's Leading Lawyers for Business and The Best Lawyers in America for many years.

Experience

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.) In a case that settled, challenged a 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 and held that "price threshold" lease provisions inserted by the Department of the Interior violated 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) Granted motion to dismiss federal royalty qui tam action.

  • Santa Fe Snyder Corp. v. Norton, 385 F.3d 884 (5th Cir. 2004) Argued and held that the Department of the Interior regulations, which 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’s 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 and defeated a 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 a 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.

Involvement

Professional

Recognition

  • New Orleans Magazine's List of "Top Lawyers," 2015-2016

  • Named 2014 New Orleans Energy & Natural Resources Lawyer of the Year by Corporate LiveWire

  • Chambers USA America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2005–2017

  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2007–2017

  • Louisiana Super Lawyers, 2014-2017

  • Best Lawyers’ 2013, 2016 New Orleans Energy Law "Lawyer of the Year"

Best Lawyers Award Badge

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Presentations

Jonathan 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 President, a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee. Jonathan 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.

  • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Short Course on Federal Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing and Development, Co-Chair and Presenter (“Setting the Legal Framework: The OCSLA, Continuing Issues of Federal/State Authority, and the Role of the Department of the Interior;” “Adjacent State Law as Surrogate Federal Law for the OCS;” “Lease Suspensions;” “Assignments and Transfers of Offshore Leases;” “Liability of Predecessors, Successors and Assigns;” “Current Offshore Leasing Litigation Topics”), 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013

  • “Searching For A Square Corner: A Royalty Lawyer's Look At Valuation, Ethics, and Legal Advice,” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute on Federal and Indian Royalty Valuation and Management, February 2004

  • “Practice Under the Deepwater Royalty Relief Act,” The Energy Law Institute for Attorneys and Landmen, Houston, 2003

  • “Offshore Gumbo: NTLs, FPSOs, OMM, MMS – 2005, OSFR, DWWR, SOOs, SOPs, Etc. – Current Offshore Regulatory and Due Diligence Issues For The Land Professional,” AAPL Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 2000

  • "Lease Maintenance After the Primary Term," 41st Louisiana Mineral Law Institute, 1994

Publications

  • U.S. Fifth Circuit Affirms Application of the Subsequent Purchaser Doctrine in Oilfield Contamination Case 

  • "Fifth Circuit Dismisses False Claims Act Suit Alleging Violation Of Offshore Regulations," Liskow & Lewis' The Energy Law Blog, March 15, 2017

  • “Federal Offshore Regulatory Enforcement Basics,” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute on Federal Offshore Regulatory Enforcement, 2016

  • “What Happened To Fair Notice? Federal Oil And Gas Lessees, Due Process, And Retroactive Changes To The Rules Of The Game” (with Sarah Y. Dicharry), 65th Annual Oil and Gas Law Conference of the Institute of Energy Law, February 2014

  • “OCS Update,” 57th Louisiana Mineral Law Institute, 2010

  • “From the Thin Air to the Deep Water: Emerging Federal Royalty Issues,” 55th Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, 2009

  • "From President Truman To Governor Blanco: The Continuing Saga Of Federal-State Revenue Sharing," Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Special Institute On Federal And Indian Oil And Gas Royalty Valuation And Management, March 2007

  • "View From The Platform—The Coastal States' Impacts On The Federal Offshore Leasing Program," 58th Annual Oil and Gas Law Conference of the Institute for Energy Law, February 2007

  • “Operator Liability in the 21st Century: Is Being in Charge Still Worth It?”(with Cheryl Kornick), 51st Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute, 2005

  • ABA Section of Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law (Louisiana Law Section), Year In Review 1997–1999

  • Louisiana Royalty Disputes, Nat. Resources and Env’t., Vol. 12, No. 1, 1997