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September 15, 2022

Colorado Supreme Court to hear arguments in Boulder County oil and gas case

Court to decide dispute between the county and oil and gas operator over validity of leases

Boulder County, Colo. - The latest development in a years-long court battle between Boulder County and a Colorado oil and gas operator will play out before the Colorado Supreme Court on Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. The Boulder County Attorney’s Office will present oral argument in Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County v. Crestone Peak Resources Operating, LLC. The county filed this case in 2017, arguing that several of its oil and gas leases over lands in eastern Boulder County expired due to a lack of oil and gas production. If the leases are found to have expired, the county will have full control over the mineral rights, to the extent possible under state law. The Boulder County District Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled against the county, finding that the leases remained in place even though the oil and gas wells were not extracting oil or gas from the ground. The state’s highest court granted review of this issue: whether oil and gas operators must actually produce oil and gas to maintain their leases or can hold those leases with idle wells. Most of the county’s oil and gas leases are 40 years old or more, with out-dated royalty rates and other terms, and the wells associated with those leases have often been shut in for long periods of time.

Several law professors from the CU Law School, the Colorado Association of Mineral Rights Owners, and the Colorado State Land Board, a major mineral rights owner and manager, all filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the county.

Interested members of the public can attend the argument in person at the Colorado Supreme Court or tune in to the oral argument, either live at 10 a.m. on Sept. 20 or from the archives any time thereafter, at this link: Colorado Judicial Branch - Courts - Appellate Courts Live Broadcast by searching under “State Supreme Court” for Case Number 21SC477. A decision is expected from the Colorado Supreme Court several months after the oral arguments are complete.