McGuireWoods Lawyers Pen Law360 Analysis on Louisiana Pipeline Crossings Ruling

May 24, 2024

A Louisiana appeals court ruling in a dispute over pipeline servitudes could have far-reaching implications for landowners and energy companies, McGuireWoods’ Mitchell Diles, Andrew Gann and Miles Indest wrote in an analysis in Law360. McGuireWoods partner Anthony Carna contributed to the May 14, 2024, article, titled “What a Louisiana Ruling Means for Pipeline Crossings.”

Louisiana’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court ruling that initially blocked a natural gas company’s plan to lay a pipeline underneath and perpendicular to the existing ETC Tiger Pipeline. The appeals court found that ETC’s pipeline servitude did not convey an exclusive right to construct a pipeline at any depth underground. Because the servitude did not specify a depth, the depth became fixed once ETC laid its pipeline.

The authors noted that the decision reflects an emerging trend in Louisiana law, and a similar case might produce a different result in other jurisdictions. “Following the appeals court’s decision, pipeline operators should review pipeline crossings to ensure that they occur at safe distances. Operators should also keep in mind the value of crossing agreements in protecting both sides in case of a dispute — and should make sure that agreements take clearance depths into account. And pipeline and utility owners should be aware of applicable laws governing their easements,” the authors wrote.