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Firm Client Prevails In North Slope Oil Field Lease Dispute

In a case handled by Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon attorney Pat Gilmore, the Alaska Supreme Court recently affirmed the award of a disputed Alaska North Slope oil field “overriding royalty interest” (ORRI) to Rutter and Wilbanks Corporation, a client of the firm. Both the Alaska Supreme Court and the Superior Court agreed that Rutter and Wilbanks retained its interest in the ORRI despite surrendering its interest in the underlying operating entity. The extensive contract documentation drafted by a different law firm did not address the status of the ORRI upon surrender of a party’s interest in the operating entity. The Superior Court and Alaska Supreme Court rejected arguments that the court could imply forfeiture of the ORRI based on the “reasonable expectations of the parties” and other legal theories. Renaissance Alaska, LLC v. Rutter and Wilbanks Corporation, Alaska Supreme Court Opinion No. 6613 (October 28, 2011)