Many people in Louisiana have called us saying “There’s oilfield equipment on my property. What do I do?” Don’t worry, we can help!
Oilfield equipment as a legacy of old operations
Oilfield equipment didn’t get to your property on it’s own. The first oil well in Louisiana was drilled over 120 years ago near Jennings, Louisiana. Since that time, oil and gas companies have drilled thousands of wells throughout the state and set up storage and production facilities on property owned by Louisiana residents.
Unfortunately, as oil and gas wells have become less productive over time and the operators find less benefit to continued operation, some companies have abandoned equipment and left contamination on the properties from which they once received great economic benefits.
Will the oil company do the right thing?
Landowners often hold out hope that an oil and gas operator will do the right thing and remove any equipment and contamination once they are done operating. However, that’s not often the case. Instead, landowners are left with abandoned tanks, gas plants, and pipes. This equipment can prevent a landowner from farming the land, building a home, or even having a safe place to hunt and fish with their family. Even worse, many times if equipment is left on site, the oil and gas company has likely also left dangerous oilfield contamination on the property.
Can I be held liable for the oilfield equipment?
Abandoned equipment and oilfield contamination can mean big problems for landowners. Tanks and equipment abandoned on property can present liability issues for the landowner. If someone gets hurt on your property from this equipment, the property owner could find themselves faced with a lawsuit from the injured person.
If any tanks are leaking or if radioactive pipe is on the property, a landowner could find themselves faced with orders from the state to make sure the landowner is in compliance with all environmental regulations. The property owner and their heirs can be required to remediate property and groundwater if their property is causing environmental harm. Ultimately, removing and disposing of oilfield equipment and contaminated soil or groundwater can be an expensive task. Most landowners do not have the means to perform a full evaluation and remediation that can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
Innocent landowners should not be on the hook for damages caused by oil companies, but it can happen under the law.
What should I do to protect myself?
If you have oil and gas equipment or tanks on your property, it’s important to contact a lawyer to determine the next steps and help you get your property back to the way it should be. When a landowner with oilfield equipment on their property contacts our firm, we perform a search of the operators involved with the property to determine who is potentially responsible for the abandoned equipment and potential environmental contamination. Next, we also do a preliminary survey of the property to determine if there are environmental concerns. After determining whether there is contamination and who is responsible, we work with our clients to determine the best way to proceed.
In some cases, we have been able to negotiate resolutions involving removal of abandoned equipment and remediation without filing suit. In other cases, we have to file a suit to force the oil and gas companies to do the right thing and protect the landowner. Either way, at Stag Liuzza, we work to ensure that our clients and their families are not left with cleaning up the mess created by an oil and gas company.
If you have abandoned oilfield equipment or tanks on your property, contact Stag Liuzza at 504-593-9600 for a free consultation.