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Gardner addresses current issues regarding Oklahoma Native American law

Melissa Gardner is a Director who practices in the Energy & Natural Resources Practice Group. She represents both privately-owned and public companies in a wide variety of oil and gas matters, with a strong emphasis on oil and gas title examination.

Director Melissa R. Gardner participated in a seminar in September for the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education individuals focusing on matters relevant to the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma.

“My presentation covered the statutory landscape for Native American law,” Gardner said. “I discussed all of the Congressional acts that control the United States’s legal position in regards to the tribes.”

On the topic of tribes, Gardner addressed the most recent Supreme Court case involving the tribes, Sharp v. Murphy, and emphasized possible, incredible implications on the state of Oklahoma and 19 million acres lying East of Oklahoma City.

The case is pending and raises the question of whether Congress disestablished the Muscogee Nation reservation. Click here for more information on issues surrounding the case.

Gardner is a Director and an attorney in the Energy & Natural Resources Practice Group. She represents energy companies in a variety of matters in both Oklahoma and Texas.

NewsOK Q&A: Forced pooling in mineral land leasing has upsides, downsides

From NewsOK / by Paula Burkes
Published: August 31, 2017
Click to see full story – Forced pooling in mineral land leasing has upsides, downsides

Click to see Melissa Gardner’s attorney profile

Melissa Gardner is a Director who practices in the Energy & Natural Resources Practice Group.

Q: If you’re approached about leasing minerals, do you have options?

A: You do have options. However, none of those options include avoiding leasing your minerals. In Oklahoma, the development of minerals is a compelling state interest. Therefore, if you refuse to lease your minerals, you will be subject to forced pooling. Forced pooling of minerals is similar, in many ways, to acquiring property via eminent domain. However, in this context, it’s a private company acquiring the minerals for a period of time to develop a spacing unit. Because such acquisition is a “taking,” it’s in a much more limited form than leasing the same minerals.

Q: Why would the state allow companies to “take” individuals’ minerals?

A: If an individual in the middle of a spacing unit refused to negotiate or lease their minerals to an operator, their “holdout” would prevent the surrounding mineral owners from developing their assets. This, combined with the aforementioned state interest of developing oil and gas in our state, has led courts and the Legislature to determine it’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure production.

Q: What are the pros and cons of leasing versus being made subject to a forced pooling order?

A: If you choose to sign a lease, you will have the ability to negotiate more of the specifics of the usage of your minerals. You are in a position to get the oil and gas companies to agree to some conditions and special provisions. If you are subject to a forced pooling (as managed by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission), you’re not in a position to negotiate these details.

Second, you can negotiate bonus and royalty costs. If you are subject to a forced pooling order, you’re given three options, being a combination of the prevailing prices in the surrounding areas, with no option to negotiate those prices. In the alternative, if you allow yourself to be subject to the OCC forced pooling order, the applicant is given a shorter time within which it has to commence operations. The average lease is valid for three to five years, whereas the average pooling order is valid for six months to a year, both of which extend after production has been initiated. This keeps your minerals under contract for a shorter period of time.

Additionally, the minerals only are forced pooled as to certain, limited geological formations. If a well is drilled and producing from those zones, your minerals are still open and unleased as to other, non-pooled zones. In the alternative, most leases cover all depths or, at a minimum, from the surface to a certain depth below the surface. Finally, forced pooling orders expire at the end of production. If a producing well is drilled during the first year of a five-year lease and only produces for two years, the lease remains valid, and your minerals remain unmarketable for re-lease, for an additional three years.

Phillips Murrah names four new Directors and Shareholders

Directors Melissa R. Gardner, Clayton D. Ketter, Patrick L. Hullum, and Bobby Dolatabadi.

Directors Melissa R. Gardner, Clayton D. Ketter, Patrick L. Hullum, and Bobby Dolatabadi.

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce that we have expanded our group of Directors from 31 to 35, promoting Attorneys Bobby Dolatabadi, Melissa R. Gardner, Patrick L. Hullum, and Clayton D. Ketter to Shareholders.

Dolatabadi an experienced real estate attorney who represents his clients in a multitude of real estate transactions including acquisitions, divestitures, leasing, development and land-use.

Gardner represents both privately-owned and public companies in a wide variety of oil and gas matters, with a strong emphasis on oil and gas title examination.

Hullum a litigation attorney who represents individuals and public and private companies in a wide range of complex litigation matters and specializes in business litigation.

Ketter is a litigator whose practice involves a wide range of business litigation in both federal and state court, including extensive experience in financial restructurings and bankruptcy matters.

Phillips Murrah attorney presents at Oklahoma City Association of Professional Landmen meeting

Attorney Melissa Gardner presents at a OCAPL November meeting.

Attorney Melissa Gardner presents at an OCAPL November meeting.

Phillips Murrah attorney Melissa R. Gardner gave a presentation on ways bankruptcy proceedings affect oil and gas companies on Nov. 2 at the Oklahoma City Association of Professional Landmen‘s monthly meeting.

“I tried to point out things that could be useful if your company is considering bankruptcy and what you might do if your company is in a contractual relationship with a party that files for bankruptcy,” Gardner said.

The OCAPL is comprised of land professionals and leaders in the oil and gas industry.

For more information on OCAPL and the presentation, click here.

Phillips Murrah rowing team, Law & Oarder, completes 2015 season

Phillips Murrah rowing team on the course

Phillips Murrah’s corporate rowing team, Law & Oarder, was featured on the cover of the Saturday, Oklahoman on Oct. 3.

rowing group

Getting ready for the race, Oct 2 at the Oklahoma Boathouse District. From left: Nathan Hatcher, Debra Tyler, Jennifer Miller, Jason Kreth, Dave Rhea, Melissa Gardner, G. Calvin Sharpe.

The Phillips Murrah rowing team, Law & Oarder, completed the 2015 season on Friday with a solid, 500-meter run of 1:52.818.

“It has been amazing to see how wholeheartedly the firm supports our team,” said Phillips Murrah attorney and L&O team leader, Melissa Gardner. “I definitely think rowing is an outlet to build relationships outside of those you’d normally build in the firm.”

Over the two seasons during the summer of 2015, the rowing team has consisted of Firm Shareholders, attorneys, non-attorney directors in marketing and IT, legal secretaries and accountants.

“Rowing gives me a sense of commitment and accountability to our team and it brings our ‘work family’ together in a vastly different environment,” said Marketing Director, Dave Rhea. “It’s a very interesting activity. This is my first year, and I am hooked.”

PM rowing tshirts for 2015

PM rowing t shirts for 2015

“Plus, I think the regattas are a great way for the firm to build morale,” Melissa added. “As someone who started at the firm within the last two years, it was a great way to speed up relationship building within the firm – both with those who are on the team and all those who are just interested!”

G rowing

Practice: G. Calvin and Monica Ball preparing to “put foot to strip.”

“Having the opportunity to be a part of the Phillips Murrah rowing team has been an awesome experience,” said Deena Baker, a Legal Secretary at Phillips Murrah. “I have accomplished something I never dreamed of even attempting, but was determined to try after watching last October’s race!  Had the time of my life and am ready to jump back in next year!”

You can see more coverage about the regatta in The Oklahoman – Oklahoma Regatta Festival: Premier fall rowing event keeps growing by Ed Godfrey.

 

Phillips Murrah “Law & Oarder” rowing teams gear up for race day

PM rowing-oarsPhillips Murrah’s rowing teams, “Law & Oarder,” are on the home stretch as they prepare for their second annual corporate regatta.

This summer’s race will be held during the Stars & Stripes River Festival June 27th at the OKC Boathouse District. Corporate racing begins at 5 p.m.

Below is a brief interview with Melissa Gardner, co-captain and organizer of the Phillips Murrah corporate rowing program. Melissa is also an attorney in the Energy & Natural Resources practice group.

Q: How long has Phillips Murrah been participating in this?

2014 trophy and medal

2014 trophy and medal

A: We started in the Fall 2014 season, so this is our second season.

Q: What was the first race like?

A: It was our first race and because of two more experienced rowers, we were actually thrown into a category higher than our overall experience level.  It was an exciting environment because around 50 of our co-workers and friends had joined us and were so enthusiastic that we could hear them cheering from the starting line.  I think our speed and agility surprised even those people in the boat. It’s crazy how much faster you row in an actual race. Our co-workers were shocked that we beat our next competitor by three boat lengths! In fact, when we got off the water, I got a lot of comments like “wow, you guys really do know how to row.”  It’s impressive what you can learn in one season of rowing together.

rowing practice-2

The 2015 PM crew gets ready for practice.

Q: In your estimation, how has it helped our corporate culture here at the firm. One thing I noticed is that it is a great way to get attorneys and staff together into a cool team environment.

A: Yes, I agree that it’s helped blend attorneys and staff, but I will say that I think the best part was the race.  And the turn-out we had and the opportunity for all of the firm to join in a community-centric event and cheer on our own.  It joined everyone in a team, even those not rowing.

Q: What other teams compete in this? I assume there’s more levels than just novice, right?

A: Yes, a variety of categories: all men; all women; co-ed (4 of each); and open (at least 1 woman). And landlubber (first year); novice; intermediate; and experienced.  There are many corporations that I know participate…Devon, Chesapeake, MidFirst, St. Anthony’s, Mercy, OU Med Science, and lots of others I don’t know about.

 

 

 

Firm adopts family for Oklahoma Family Network

Attorneys at Phillips Murrah wrapped gifts for Oklahoma Family Network.

From left: Bobby Dolatabadi, Jennifer Miller, Dave Rhea, Dawn Rahme, Melissa Gardner, Liz Mobley, Josh Edwards and Monice Ybarra.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorneys at Phillips Murrah hosted a gift wrapping party on Dec. 18 to wrap donations for the Oklahoma Family Network. The firm raised $4,000 for the 2014 holiday season.

“The attorneys and legal professionals at Phillips Murrah recognize that community service and philanthropy are important components of our profession and we seek out opportunities that would allow us to make a positive impact on our local community,” said Monica Y. Ybarra, attorney at Phillips Murrah. “Our partnership with the Oklahoma Family Network is a great way to have a direct impact in the lives of Oklahoma families dealing with special health care needs and disabilities. Through OFN, we are able to connect with families in need and provide much-needed essential items…as well a little fun!”

The Oklahoma Family Network serves families whose members are critically ill or have other health issues or disabilities. Phillips Murrah has raised funds to buy gifts for families and provide funds to OFN for emergency medical bills, food shopping, utility payments, etc. for years.

“This event is a fulfilling opportunity for the whole firm to get involved and go beyond the practice of law to help struggling Oklahoma families that do not have the means to celebrate Christmas,” said Cody J. Cooper, attorney at Phillips Murrah. “By giving gifts to families in need, the families are able to celebrate Christmas when they wouldn’t otherwise and the parents get peace of mind knowing that their children will have presents under the tree. It helps them take focus away from their struggles, even if only for a day.”

Journal Record: Phillips Murrah adds oil, gas attorney

OKLAHOMA CITY – Melissa Gardner has joined Phillips Murrah’s Energy and Oil and Gas Practice Group.MRG

For six years Gardner was an attorney with Chesapeake Energy, where she prepared title opinions for oil and gas projects and performed reviews of land documents for mergers and acquisitions.

Gardner grew up in Empire, Okla., and is a graduate of Oklahoma State University. She received her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2007.