Another recent bankruptcy court ruling may bode ill for producers and royalty owners in Texas in light of the collapse of oil prices and increased risks of bankruptcy of producers and oil purchasers. In Re: First River Energy, LLC, 2019 WL 1103294(US Bankr. W.D. Tex., March 7, 2019), also highlights a fix to the First Purchaser Statute the Texas legislature needs to address.
The oil industry in Texas fell on hard times in the early 1980’s. Several large oil purchasers filed for bankruptcy, leaving many royalty owners and producers unpaid. In response the Texas Legislature passed a law intended to give producers and royalty owners a better chance to recover their monies in bankruptcy court. The statute is now Section 9.343 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code, which is Texas’ version of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). All states have passed their version of the UCC. The UCC is intended to govern rights of parties in commercial transactions; the intent of having a “uniform” code in all states is to ensure that such transactions will not be hindered by differing laws from state to state. Article 9 of the UCC governs security interests granted in “goods” and proceeds from the sale of goods. “Goods” includes oil and gas, once they have been produced. So, the UCC, and particularly Article 9, govern how security interests are granted in produced oil and gas and in proceeds from the sale of oil and gas and the priority among creditors claiming security interests in oil and gas and proceeds. Continue reading →