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COPAS For Landmen and Lawyers

Karla J. Bower, Mark D. Christiansen, Proceedings of 48th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2002)

The Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies, Inc. (COPAS) has for many years published model form accounting procedures. Those model forms have been used, or have served as the basis for customized accounting procedures, for virtually all domestic Joint Operating Agreements (JOAs) since the early 1960s. Although the form has been fine-tuned and updated many times since then, [26-4] it continues to evolve in response to industry trends and developments.2 This chapter will not attempt to cover every aspect of the COPAS forms. Rather, it will review issues that may need attention when using the COPAS form; its relationship to the JOA; practical tips for resolving commonly negotiated items; associated legal issues; and a review of reported case law involving COPAS issues.

COPAS has published a number of model form accounting procedures since the first one was issued in 1962. While the older forms are still in force and effect as part of agreements negotiated years ago, most onshore agreements negotiated today use the 1984 Accounting Procedure. The 1986 form is the preferred form for offshore shelf prospects, while the Project Team Accounting Procedure (PTAP) is the commonly used form for deepwater and frontier area prospects. There is a more recent model form, the 1995 Accounting Procedure. Although the later date on this form might suggest this is the preferred form,