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John M. Denman Oil Co. Inc. v. State Corporation Commission of State

Court of Appeals of Kansas

January 9, 2015

JOHN M. DENMAN OIL CO., INC., Appellant,
v.
STATE CORPORATION COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF KANSAS, Appellee. AND GARY AND KAYLA BRIDWELL, D/B/A BLACK RAIN ENERGY, Appellees, GARY AND KAYLA BRIDWELL, D/B/A BLACK RAIN ENERGY, Petitioners,
v.
STATE CORPORATION COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF KANSAS, Respondent

Appeal from Shawnee District Court; FRANKLIN R. THEIS, judge.

Affirmed.

SYLLABUS

BY THE COURT

1. Under K.S.A. 55-179, more than one party may be held legally responsible for plugging an abandoned oil or gas well. One of the legally responsible parties is the operator who initially abandoned the well.

2. When more than one party is legally responsible for plugging an abandoned oil or gas well under K.S.A. 55-179, the Kansas Corporation Commission may order all such parties to do so, and the liability of those parties is joint and several.

Thomas M. Rhoads, of Glaves, Irby & Rhoads, of Wichita, for appellant.

Dana Bradbury and Lane R. Palmateer, of Kansas Corporation Commission, for appellee.

Keith A. Brock, of Anderson & Byrd, LLP, of Ottawa, for petitioners.

Jeff Kennedy, of Martin, Pringle, Oliver, Wallace & Bauer, L.L.P., of Wichita, for amicus curiae Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association.

David E. Bengtson, of Stinson Leonard Street LLP, of Wichita, for amicus curiae Eastern Kansas Oil & Gas Association.

Before GREEN, P.J., LEBEN and BRUNS, JJ.

OPINION

Page 959

Leben, J.

John M. Denman Oil Company has appealed a Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) order that Denman Oil must plug 41 abandoned oil wells. Denman Oil contends that only one party may be held legally responsible for the wells under K.S.A. 55-179 and that since another party took over the mineral lease from Denman Oil, it is no longer responsible.

But K.S.A. 55-179(b) provides that " a person who is legally responsible shall include, but is not limited to, one or more" of several parties defined in that statute. And one of those who may be held responsible is " the original operator who . . . abandoned such well." There's no dispute that Denman Oil was the original operator who abandoned these ...


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