The Right Way to Obtain Multi-Line Rights in a Right-of-Way Transaction in Texas

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There are many misconceptions about how multi-line rights are created in Texas. Contrary to popular belief, a multiple pipeline right-of-way cannot just be created by changing “pipeline” to “pipelines” in the granting provision.[1] In fact, if there is not an express provision in the easement granting the right to lay additional lines, a court will not imply rights beyond those of the easement.[2] In making the determination of multi-line use, Texas courts have routinely turned to the compensation clause and granting provision to see what the parties contemplated at the time of execution.[3]

In Hall, the landowner, Tom Hall, alleged that the pipeline operator, Lone Star Gas Company, excessively used its easement, which granted Lone Star “the right of way and easement to construct, maintain, and operate pipe lines.”[4] Lone Star also had the right of “ingress and egress from the premises, for the purposes of constructing, inspecting, repairing, maintaining, and replacing the property of [grantee].”[5] Although the subject easement agreement used the term “pipe lines,” it did not contain any further expression granting the right to lay additional lines in the future.[6] Furthermore, the compensation clause for future lines was intentionally deleted from the easement agreement.[7] In accordance with precedent case law, the court in Hall weighed the impact of this deletion in order to arrive at the true meaning and intention of the parties.[8] The court concluded that without some express provision addressing the right to lay additional lines or providing for additional compensation for a new line, Lone Star’s proposition that the easement permits future additional lines could not prevail.[9]

There appears to be a slight caveat to the court’s deference toward inferring the parties intended single-line use with respect to replacement lines. If a replacement line is required by the pipeline operator, Texas courts have generally held that the original line may be used during construction of the replacement line in order to offer continuity of the pipeline’s operations.[10] Although it may seem, on its face, that the holding of two physical pipelines at once would be a violation of any single-line restriction, such protocol, in fact, is permitted to ensure the safety of the pipeline operation.[11]

Thus, if a pipeline operator intends to acquire multi-line rights to an easement area, the lesson learned is that it should clearly and distinctly state such right is contemplated by the parties within the four corners of the agreement and ensure that proper consideration has been exchanged for such right.

[1] See generally, Hall v. Lone Star Gas Co., 954 S.W.2d 174 (Tex. App. – Austin 1997).

[2] Pioneer Natural Gas Co. v. Russell, 453 S.W.2d 882, 886 (Tex. Civ. App. – Amarillo 1970, writ ref’d n.r.e.).

[3] Hall, 954 S.W.2d at 176.

[4] Id. at 175.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at 176.

[7] Id.

[8] See Houston Pipe Line Co. v. Dwyer, 374 S.W.2d 662, 664 (Tex. 1964) (establishing that a court may consider deletions in determining the meaning and intention of parties).

[9] Hall, 954 S.W.2d at 176–77.

[10] See generally, Hall v. Lone Star Gas Co., 954 S.W.2d 174 (Tex. App. – Austin 1997) (allowing use of the original line during construction of a replacement line); Harris v. Phillips Pipe Line Co., 517 S.W.2d 361 (Tex. Civ. App. – Austin 1974), writ refused NRE (Apr. 23, 1975).

[11] Id.

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