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A.A.P.L. Form 610 Model Form Operating Agreement: Selected Provisions Impacting Onshore Producing Property Transfers

Timothy W. Dowdy, Proceedings of 47th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2001)

[T]he essential facts of this case are largely undisputed and relatively uncomplicated. These facts, however, are enveloped within the mass and maze of a record typical of oil and gas cases, and groaning further from the Byzantine nature of joint operating agreements. Not surprisingly, the author has spent many months wandering in strange and mostly wrong valleys searching for the answers to the imponderables presented in this case.

Judge David Wellington Chew, Court of Appeals of Texas, Eighth District, El Paso, from his opinion in Hill v. Heritage Resources, Inc.

The joint development and operation of oil and gas properties are complex undertakings. As evidenced by Judge Chew's lament above, agreements attempting to define the relationship of parties to such undertakings can be equally complex. In the early days of the industry, no standard form operating agreement existed that was widely accepted and used.2 In the early 1950s, the American Association of Petroleum Landmen (now known as the American Association of Professional Landmen) (in either case, A.A.P.L.) spearheaded a cooperative effort by a number of industry professionals to produce such a standard form. In 1956, the A.A.P.L. published its first version. Since that time, the A.A.P.L. has produced four different versions of the Form 610 Model Form Operating Agreement (the 1956 form with major revisi