Damages for Breach of an Express Drilling Covenant
AbstractAlthough legal problems of oil and gas production are governed by general principles of the law of property, contracts, torts, etc., there are certain situations in the oil and gas industry where these rules do not quite fit, and if they do fit, their application is so strained that the rule becomes a special rule, and becomes a part of that separate body of law referred to as oil and gas law. Damages for breach of an express drilling covenant is such an area. This article distinguishes a covenant to drill a well from a covenant to protect against drainage and from a covenant of reasonable development, discusses the four rules that have been used by the courts in assessing damages for breach of a covenant to drill a well, analyzes the Canadian decisions on breach of a covenant to drill a well and concludes that, in a situation where the plaintiff and the defendant both have an interest in the property on which the well is to be drilled, the Canadian courts will grant damages for breach of a covenant to drill a well on the basis of the loss of royalty rule and on the basis of the loss of market value rule.
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