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Changes Within the AAPL 610-1989 Model Form Operating Agreement: Horizontal Modifications and Other Developments

Jeff Weems, Proceedings of 59th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2013)

Over the last several decades, commentators discussing joint operating agreements (JOA) usually focused their analyses on the intricacies of [29-3] the provisions and the conflicting and disputed interpretations of these agreements by courts in the United States.1 These analyses and interpretations often involved language provided in model form JOAs (Model Form) published by the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL).2 These analyses, disputes, and interpretations encouraged landmen to customize the current Model Form to fit the expectations of the parties to a particular transaction.3 In addition, changes and developments in industry practices spurred customization; one of these industry developments has been the explosion of horizontal drilling.
In the last two decades, horizontal drilling has expanded drastically in North America.4 This development prompted land departments around the country to craft custom revisions and additions to the Model Form to handle aspects of horizontal drilling and production operations not addressed. The proliferation of these custom forms defeats a key function of the Model Form, which is to provide certainty and uniformity in the industry.
In response, the AAPL formed a committee to gather custom forms, to analyze the needs in the industry, and to craft a versatile Model Form that included language for horizontal operati