Justia Banking Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Energy, Oil & Gas Law
Red Tree Investments, LLC v. PDVSA, Petróleo
Defendant-Appellant Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (“PDVSA”), an oil company wholly owned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, entered into two Note Agreements and a Credit Agreement with the predecessor-in-interest to now-Plaintiff-Appellee Red Tree Investments, LLC (“Red Tree”). PDVSA became delinquent on its obligations under the contracts. Red Tree’s predecessor-in-interest accelerated the outstanding debt. Then Red Tree initiated these actions in Supreme Court, New York County, which Defendants removed to district court. PDVSA claimed that any further payment under the Agreements was impossible and should therefore be excused. The district court granted summary judgment against PDVSA on the grounds that PDVSA had failed to provide sufficient evidence that payment was impossible or in the alternative, that any impediment to payment was not reasonably foreseeable. It therefore entered judgment in favor of Red Tree and imposed post-judgment interest. On appeal, PDVSA contends that the district court erred in concluding that no reasonable trier of fact could find that payment was impossible or that U.S. sanctions were unforeseeable. PDVSA further asserts that the district court incorrectly calculated post-judgment interest. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court agreed with the district court that payment by PDVSA was not impossible. Further, the court concluded that the district court did not err in its calculation of post-judgment interest. The court explained that under the plain language of the Note and Credit Agreements, the outstanding principal and interest that accrued prejudgment—including both default and ordinary interest—are subject to default interest post-judgment. View "Red Tree Investments, LLC v. PDVSA, Petróleo" on Justia Law
Siemens Energy, Inc. v. PDVSA
In January 2017, Defendant-Appellant Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (“PDVSA”), an oil company wholly owned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, entered into a Note Agreement with then-Plaintiff-Appellee Dresser-Rand Company. PDVSA made two of the twelve payments due under the Note Agreement in April and July 2017 but failed to make any subsequent payments. In February 2019, Dresser-Rand declared PDVSA to be in default, accelerated the debt, and initiated this action in Supreme Court, New York County, which Defendants removed to the district court. PDVSA claimed that any further payment was impossible and should therefore be excused. The district court concluded that PDVSA had failed to prove that repayment was impossible. It therefore entered judgment in favor of Dresser-Rand. On appeal, PDVSA contends that the district court erred in concluding that payment was not impossible. PDVSA further asserts that the district court incorrectly calculated post-judgment interest. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court agreed with the district court that payment by PDVSA was not impossible, and the court further concluded that PDVSA forfeited any arguments relating to post-judgment interest. The court explained that the evidence demonstrates that PDVSA never attempted payment to a different bank or in an alternative currency, nor did it investigate whether this manner of payment would have been truly impossible. Instead of the evidence shows, did nothing. PDVSA cannot benefit from the impossibility defense on speculation. View "Siemens Energy, Inc. v. PDVSA" on Justia Law
Macquarie Bank Ltd. v. Knickel
Knickel approached Macquarie Bank about a loan to develop North Dakota oil and gas leases, providing confidential information about leased acreage that he had assembled over 10 years. Macquarie entered agreements with Knickel’s companies, LexMac and Novus. His other company, Lexar was not a party. Macquarie acquired a mortgage lien and perfected security interest in the leases and in their extensions or renewals. Royalties and confidential information—reserves reports on the acreage, seismic data, and geologic maps—also served as collateral. The companies defaulted. Because of the lack of development or production, many leases were set to expire. Knickel claims he agreed to renew only leases that included automatic extensions. Macquarie claims that Knickel promised to renew all leases serving as collateral in the names of LexMac and Novus. Upon the expiration of the leases without automatic extensions, Knickel entered into new leases in the name of Lexar, for development with LexMac and Novus, since they owned the confidential information. A foreclosure judgment entered, declaring that LexMac and Novus’s interest in the leases would be sold to satisfy the debt: $5,296,252.29,. Marquarie filed notice of lis pendens on Lexar’s leases, leased adjoining acreage, used the confidential information to find a buyer, and sold the leases at a profit of about $7,000,000. Marquarie filed claims of deceit, fraud, and promissory estoppel, and alleged that the corporate veil of the companies should be pierced to hold Knickel personally liable. The defendants counterclaimed misappropriation of trade secrets and unlawful interference with business. The Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment on all but one claim and judgment that Macquarie had misappropriated trade secrets. View "Macquarie Bank Ltd. v. Knickel" on Justia Law
Nixon v. AgriBank, FCB
Plaintiffs, successors in title to land located in Arkansas, brought a declaratory judgment action in Arkansas state court against AgriBank, FCB, seeking to quiet title to oil and gas rights that AgriBank held in Plaintiffs' land. AgriBank removed the case to federal district court. The district court granted AgriBank's motion to dismiss, identifying two bases on which to do so: (1) that a regulation promulgated by the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) specifically approved the sort of ownership interests held by AgriBank that Plaintiffs now attacked; and (2) that the challenge to AgriBank's oil and gas rights was based on a repealed act of Congress. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court correctly dismissed the case under its first rationale, as the reservations at issue enjoyed the FCA's approval. View "Nixon v. AgriBank, FCB" on Justia Law
MC Asset Recovery LLC v. Commerzbank A.G., et al.
This case arose when Mirant, an energy company, sought to expand its European operations by acquiring nine power islands from General Electric. When the power island deal fell through, Mirant made payments pursuant to a guaranty and soon thereafter sought bankruptcy protection. Mirant, as debtor-in-possession, sued Commerzbank and other lenders in bankruptcy court to avoid the guaranty and to recover the funds Mirant paid pursuant to the guaranty. After Mirant's bankruptcy plan was confirmed MCAR, plaintiff, substituted into the case for Mirant. Commerzbank and other lenders, defendants, filed a motion to dismiss based on Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). The district court subsequently denied defendants' motion to dismiss based on plaintiff's alleged lack of standing. Thereafter, the district court granted summary judgment for defendants. Both sides appealed. While the court agreed that the district court correctly determined that there was standing to bring the avoidance claim, the court vacated the judgment of dismissal because the district court erroneously applied Georgia state law rather than New York state law to the avoidance claim. View "MC Asset Recovery LLC v. Commerzbank A.G., et al." on Justia Law
Smith, et al. v. David H. Arrington Oil & Gas, Inc.; Foster, Jr., et al. v. Arrington Oil & Gas, Inc.; Hall, et al. v. Arrington Oil & Gas, Inc.
In this consolidated appeal, three sets of landowners asserted claims against Arrington for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and unjust enrichment relating to Arrington's failure to pay cash bonuses under oil and gas leases. The district court granted summary judgment to the landowners on the breach of contract claims and thereafter dismissed the landowners' other claims with prejudice on the landowners' motions. The court rejected the landowners' assertion that the lease agreements could be construed without considering the language of the bank drafts; the drafts' no-liability clause did not prevent enforcement of the lease agreements; Arrington entered into a binding contract with each respective landowner despite the drafts' no-liability clause; the lease approval language of the drafts was satisfied by Arrington's acceptance of the lease agreements in exchange for the signed bank drafts and as such, did not bar enforcement of the contracts; Arrington's admitted renunciation of the lease agreement for reasons unrelated to title precluded its defense to the enforceability of its contracts; Arrington's admission that it decided to dishonor all lease agreements in Phillips County for unrelated business reasons entitled the landowners to summary judgment; there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether Arrington disapproved of the landowner's titles in good faith. Accordingly, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the breach of contract claims.