35 Envtl. L. 899 (2005)
The Rule of Capture - An Oil and Gas Perspective

handle is hein.journals/envlnw35 and id is 913 raw text is: THE RULE OF CAPTURE - AN OIL AND GAS PERSPECTIVE
The rule of capture has been an integral part of oil and gas law
since the completion of the first commercial oil well in Pennsylvania in
the 1840s. The early development of the rule was subsumed within the
larger question of whether oil and gas was a possessory or non-
possessory interest or whether it was real property or personal
properly Many early cases relied on the ferae naturae or percolating
waters analogy as they developed the rule of capture, which recognizes
ownership of oil and gas in the party that brings it to the surface
regardless of where the oil and gas lay in its natural state.
As the rule of capture moved on to more complex issues, other
than pure ownership, it was modified in a number of significant ways. A
series of Indiana and Kentucky cases limited the rule by recognizing the
correlative rights of others to capture ol or gas from the common
source of supply. Thus, owners who employed artificial methods to
produce the hydrocarbons, owners who negligently drilled into the
common source of supply, and owners who wasted the hydrocarbons
were not insulated from liability by the rule of capture.
Modern oil and gas cases typically involve more complex issues
than ownership of oil and gas. Thus, where an oil and gas operator
directionally drills a well that is bottomed on the land of another, he
may not assert a rule of capture defense to limt liability to the amount
of oil and gas originally located under the neighbor's land Oil and gas
conservation statutes have had the greatest impact on the rule of
capture by limiting the abili&ty of oil and gas owners to drill wells.
Where an oil and gas operator violates conservation regulations by
appropriating more oil and gas than was authorized by the state
regulations, the operator may not plead the rule of capture to defend
his actions. Nevertheless, the rule of capture continues to apply to the
extent conservation law or orders do not preempt it. Indeed, continued
recognition of the rule, together with recognition of correlative rights,
is essential to the efficient administration of conservation laws.
 C Bruce M. Kramer, 2005. Maddox Professor of Law, Texas Tech University School of Law.
V0 Owen L. Anderson, 2005. Eugene Kuntz Chair in Oil, Gas & Natural Resources, The University of
Oklahoma College of Law. Professor Anderson would like to thank Dr. Christopher S. Kulander and
Luke Munson, third-year students at The University of Oklahoma College of Law for their assistance
editing the footnotes for this article.


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