North Dakota justices rule against oil company

Chris Rizo Sep. 24, 2008, 12:01am

Dale Sandstrom

BISMARCK, N.D. (Legal Newsline)-The North Dakota's Supreme Court has ruled that an oil company must keep paying to use two former oil wells for salt water disposal.

Burlington Resources Oil and Gas Co. LP, which is not owned by ConocoPhillips, had an agreement with two families to use wells on their land to dump salt water.

The company paid 5 cents a gallon for disposal, but stopped the payments more than five years ago.

Burlington had argued that the salt water disposal agreements are no longer valid because of a regional oil production agreement.

The North Dakota high court ruled that the company must continue to pay the families, which are owed more than $400,000.

State Southwest District Judge Allan Schmalenberger has ruled the agreement did not nulify Burlington's disposal arrangement with the Buchholz and the Uttke families. The company appealed to the state high court.

"The agreements do not prohibit Burlington from using the Buchholz and Uttke wells to dispose of waste salt water," Justice Dale Sandstrom wrote for the court. "Rather, the agreements merely provide that if Burlington uses the disposal wells, it must pay a fee."

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