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Noble Energy, Inc. v. Jewell

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20092
Nos. No. 15-5202, (D.C. Cir., 04/29/2016)

The D.C. Circuit, in an unpublished opinion, upheld a lower court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) after it ordered an energy company to permanently plug and abandon one of its natural gas wells off the coast of California. The company had temporarily plugged and abandoned the well in the 1980s. And due to the government's breach of the lease agreement, the company had been discharged from all obligations arising from the lease agreement. In 2009, the Minerals Management Service, BSEE's predecessor, ordered the company to permanently plug and abandon the well. The company challenged that order, arguing that the government's breach relieved it of any regulatory obligations to plug the well. But the applicable regulations impose decommissioning obligations independent of the contractual obligations in the lease.