Face Challenges Confidently

180 Bagley v. Centana Intrastate Pipeline

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Richard F. Brown

The following is not a legal opinion. You should consult your attorney if the case may be of significance to you.
Bagley v. Centana Intrastate Pipeline, L.L.C., No. 09-06-063-CV, 2007 WL 846554 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2007, pet. denied) (Memorandum opinion), holds that a pipeline can be relocated, notwithstanding that the easement granted was an “easement along a route,” with the route defined as the location of the pipeline “as constructed.” The pipeline company had multiple easements and pipelines crossing landowner’s tract. Line 27 and Line 17 both crossed landowner’s tract. Line 17 entered the processing plant on lands adjacent to landowner’s tract. Line 27, from offshore, did not. To get the offshore gas from Line 27 into the processing plant, the pipeline company cut off part of Line 17, extended Line 17 by a 105-foot section of new 12” pipe to Line 27, and connected Line 27 to Line 17. The landowner sued for injunction, declaratory relief, and damages for trespass.
The document originally creating the easement in 1987 for Line 17 granted:

. . . a right of way and easement along a route (the location of the pipelines, as constructed, to evidence such a route) to construct . . . operate . . . alter, replace, but not enlarge the size of . . . pipelines . . . as depicted on Exhibit A for the transportation of . . . gas . . . through a pipeline . . .through and within that certain pipeline right-of-way and easement hereinafter set forth across, under, and upon the lands of Grantor . . . as hereinafter described.

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There is included in this grant the right, from time to time, to . . . alter . . . the size of, but not enlarge the size of the line. The pipeline to be constructed will be no larger than 12” in diameter.

Exhibit A, attached to the 1987 easement, depicts the original pipeline installed in 1978.

The court held that the pipeline company could not alter the “size” of the line to something larger than 12”, but this did not restrict the pipeline company from lengthening the pipeline within the landowner’s tract. It reasoned that the 105-foot section was “entirely within the easement.”
The dissent argued that the easement granted was along a “route” that the existing pipeline followed and “as depicted” on Exhibit A to the easement. The dissenting opinion is better reasoned and better for Texas and the industry. There are thousands of easements of record that are similar to the one in this case. At the time those easements were granted, neither the landowner nor the pipeline company may have known exactly how the easement would actually turn out “as constructed.” The bargained for consideration generally involved one pipeline across Blackacre, and the landowner may not have particularly cared to exactly define the location before it was built. The pipeline company did not want to have to amend all of its easements after construction to reflect the specific path taken by the pipeline as constructed.
Therefore, many of these easements effectively grant an easement along a route defined by the pipeline as constructed. However, after the pipeline is actually constructed, all parties have an interest in knowing exactly where that easement is located. The pipeline company does not want anything to happen to or interfere with its pipeline. The landowner wants to be free to enjoy the rest of Blackacre without having to assume the pipeline may be relocated. This particular case would have been more interesting if an intervening bona fide purchaser for value, perhaps a retired appellate judge, had constructed a $1,000,000 house with a large and deep swimming pool on the site of the proposed 105-foot “extension.”