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Public Lands & Resources

The fortunes of energy and infrastructure companies are closely entwined with the federal government, the largest landowner in the United States. The US Department of the Interior alone manages more than 2 billion acres of onshore and offshore federal lands, along with playing a substantial role in the management of tribal lands. Other federal agencies — such as the US Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Energy, Department of State, Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture — also manage lands and regulatory programs crucial to energy development and infrastructure projects. Many state governments have also created similar state agencies that are responsible for the oversight of state-owned lands and natural resources.

Bracewell has decades of experience advising clients engaged in the exploration, development and transportation of natural resources with access to public and tribal lands and minerals. Over the years, we have advised Apache Corporation, Cabot Oil & Gas, Echo Energy, Eni, Equinor, Halliburton, Hilcorp Energy, Kinder Morgan, Noble Energy, NuStar Energy, Tesoro and Venoco on various matters.

Our lawyers, who are highly ranked in Chambers USA and Legal 500 US, have advised clients on regulatory and policy requirements for land use and royalty obligations; litigation challenging federal land use decisions; investigations and enforcement actions; and corporate and financial transactions involving public lands and resources.

In commercial matters, we provide experienced guidance in the acquisition of oil and gas interests on public lands, unit agreements, unit operating agreements, plans of operation, permits to drill, access rights and the transfer of operating rights and record title ownership with the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Indian Affairs, among other agencies. 

On the regulatory front, our team draws insights from years working at the highest levels of the Interior Department, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

In investigative and enforcement matters, we have advised clients on many of the most significant issues affecting public lands in recent years.

Recognition for Global Excellence

Our team is recognized for excellence in handling complex energy and environmental matters.

  • Chambers Global – USA Oil & Gas Regulatory & Litigation (Band 1); USA Oil & Gas Transactional; USA Projects
  • Chambers USA – Nationwide Electricity Regulatory & Litigation; Nationwide Electricity Transactional; Nationwide Environment; Nationwide Oil & Gas Regulatory & Litigation (Band 1); Nationwide Oil & Gas Transactional; Nationwide Projects: Oil & Gas; Nationwide Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional; DC Environment; Texas Environment (Band 1)
  • IFLR1000 – US Project Development: Oil & Gas; US Project Development: Power; US Project Finance
  • Legal 500 US – Energy Litigation: Electric Power; Energy Litigation: Oil & Gas; Energy Regulation: Electric Power; Energy Regulation: Oil & Gas (Tier 1); Energy: Renewable/Alternative Power; Energy Transactions: Electric Power; Energy Transactions: Oil & Gas; Environment Litigation; Environment Regulatory; Environment Transactional; Government Relations
  • U.S. News – Best Lawyers – National Energy Law (Tier 1); National Environmental Law (Tier 1); National Environmental Litigation (Tier 1); National Oil & Gas Law (Tier 1); National Project Finance Law (Tier 1); Austin Energy Law (Tier 1); Austin Environmental Litigation (Tier 1); Austin Water Law (Tier 1); Houston Energy Law (Tier 1); Houston Natural Resources Law (Tier 1); Houston Oil & Gas Law (Tier 1); Houston Project Finance Law (Tier 1); New York Energy Law (Tier 1); Washington, DC Corporate Compliance Law; Washington, DC Criminal Defense: General Practice; Washington, DC Energy Law (Tier 1); Washington, DC Environmental Law (Tier 1); Washington, DC Government Relations Practice; Washington, DC Environmental Litigation (Tier 1); Washington, DC Oil & Gas Law (Tier 1)

incredibly sophisticated. They have a deep level of subject matter expertise and can translate that into regulatory, legislative or other legal results in courts.

Chambers USA, 2023

IMAGE: Pipeline through the mountains

Market-Leading Engagements

Regulatory, Policy and Investigative Matters

  • Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation in its defense against the Department of Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue allegations of knowing or willful violations of the Federal Oil & Gas Royalty Management Act relating to the payment of royalties
  • Equinor Wind LLC in federal leasing and permitting for commercial-scale wind development project offshore New York, as well as the defense of the lease auction results in federal court
  • Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. in various investigations that arose from the Deepwater Horizon incident, including President Obama’s Special Task Force, the US Congress and the Chemical Safety Board (CSB)
  • NuStar Energy, L.P. on matters related to an application to the US Army Corps of Engineers for a permit and easement
  • Tesoro in connection with a challenge brought by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in Washington State to block the shipment of Bakken crude by rail to Tesoro’s refinery at Anacortes

Corporate & Finance Matters

  • Apache Corporation in the $7 billion acquisition of BP’s oil and gas operations, acreage and infrastructure in the Permian Basin of West Texas, Egypt’s Western Desert and New Mexico, as well as BP’s upstream natural gas business in western Alberta and British Columbia
  • Apache Corporation in the $3.75 billion sale of Gulf of Mexico OCS assets to Fieldwood Energy LLC
  • Apache Corporation in the $1.4 billion sale of its interests in the Lucius and Heidelberg deepwater Gulf of Mexico developments to Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc