Bill Kroger

Practice Group Chair - Energy Litigation (Firmwide) Partner

bill.kroger@bakerbotts.com

Houston

P: +1.713.229.1736 F: +1.713.229.2836
Bill Kroger

Bill Kroger is one of the leading energy litigation lawyers in the United States. In 2020, Chambers USA ranked Bill as “Band 1” for the United States as to Oil and Gas Litigation. Chambers wrote:

“Bill is an esteemed attorney with considerable expertise handling lease, contract and broader oil and gas industry disputes concerning the exploration, production and transportation of oil and gas. Interviewees note ‘His greatest strength is having good practical knowledge of what is and is not important, and know how to prepare his clients for each step of the litigation process.’”

The National Law Journal has recognized Bill as an “Energy Trailblazer” (2015). Legal 500 identified Bill as one of only two lawyers in the United States as a “Leading Lawyer” in “Energy Litigation: Oil and Gas,” stating that Bill “leads the team and has substantial experience in big-ticket oil and gas disputes.”

Bill is also one of the leaders of the Houston legal community. He was elected and currently serves as President of the Houston Bar Association for the 2020-21 bar year, which coincides with the 150th Anniversary of the HBA. In 2020, the Anti-Defamation League awarded Bill its Karen H. Susman Jurisprudence Award for his dedication to the legal profession, legal history, and service to the Houston community. He has chaired or led Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the Dispute Resolution Committee, Houston Lawyers Referral Services, and the Houston Bar Foundation, among other organizations. He has also served as a director of the State Bar of Texas. In 2017, Bill was elected by his peers to the American Law Institute. In 2015, Bill received the Leon Jaworski Award from the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary for a lifetime of public service.

He has chaired the firm’s Energy Litigation Practice for more than a decade. The Texas Lawyer selected the firm's Energy Litigation group as the “Energy Litigation Department of the Year” in both 2016 and 2017. In 2020, Chambers ranked the Baker Botts Energy Litigation group as Band 1 Nationally for Energy Litigation: Oil and Gas. Legal 500 US ranked the group as Tier 1 in Oil & Gas Litigation for every years for 2010 to 2020.

Bill has handled major disputes in the oil and gas plays in the United States, including the Permian Basin (Texas), Gulf of Mexico, Eagle Ford (Texas), Wolfcamp (Texas), Uinta (Utah), Bakken (North Dakota), Utica (Ohio) and Marcellus (Pennsylvania/West Virginia). He has represented clients in state and federal courts and in arbitrations throughout the United States. He has also appeared before numerous state and federal energy regulatory agencies.

During his career, Bill has represented clients in many of the most significant energy disputes of the past 30 years, including:

  • Kinder Morgan in multiple legal proceedings seeking to block its $2 billion Permian Highway Pipeline;
  • oil and gas producers against railcar owners on corrosion claims on crude oil tank cars, including trial against CIT Rail on $40 million of corrosion claims;
  • major multinational oil company on claims arising out of the Lac-Mégantic explosion;
  • major refiner on wrongful death and property damage claims from the explosion at its refinery;
  • multiple, major arbitrations for multinational oil companies involving title disputes in the Permian Basin and other major shale plays;
  • oil and gas producer in Cerny, the most important oil and gas nuisance decision involving Texas shale plays;
  • the Texas Oil and Gas Association against the City of Denton, seeking to impose the first ban on fracking in a shale play in Texas. The litigation resulted in the termination of the ban and major changes in state regulation of oil and gas;
  • CenterPoint Energy on its major proceedings before the Texas Public Utility Commission for the deregulation of the electric utility industry in the State of Texas;
  • U.S. oil and gas traders by Pemex that traders had purchased more than $300 million of stolen hydrocarbons;
  • largest coastal windfarm in the United States against claims by the King Ranch and other plaintiffs on nuisance and other environmental claims; and
  • HL&P before the Texas Supreme Court on the Auchan case, dealing with the issue of the enforceability of its limitation of liability provision in its tariff. This case established the legal viability of tariff provisions in the State of Texas.

Bill also handles complex commercial litigation in addition to energy litigation. Over his career, Bill’s clients have included EOG, Murphy Exploration, CenterPoint Energy, Hines Interests Limited Partnership, Ford Motor Company, BASF, Shell Oil, Kinder Morgan, BHP Petroleum, Courson Oil and Gas, Vega Energy, Matador Resources, Enable Energy, Carlyle Group, Engie North America, The Texas Oil and Gas Association, EQT, and Dominion Resources.

Related Experience

BROAD RANGE OF POWER, OIL AND GAS, AND OTHER ENERGY LITIGATION MATTERS:

Oil and Gas Upstream/Operators and Working Interests

  • Foreclosure litigation over JOAs and other oil and gas assets in Texas and Oklahoma
  • Lease, royalty, title and other lawsuits in Eagle Ford, Permian, Marcellus and other shale plays
  • Flaring litigation in Texas and North Dakota
  • Lawsuits in Alabama, West Virginia, Utah and Texas concerning rights of first refusal arising out of purchase and sale transactions of onshore and offshore oil and gas properties
  • Disputes with surface owners and lessors in shale plays
  • Litigation and regulatory disputes relating to ownership, operation and permitting of disposal wells
  • Disputes over royalty, offset wells, drainage and other lease terms between lessors and operators
  • Disputes regarding top leases and title disputes
  • Defense of numerous lawsuits and claims for personal injury, death, indemnity and insurance coverage arising out of drilling and competing activities
  • Disputes regarding allocation wells in Texas
  • Oilfield supply contract disputes
  • Infrastructure disputes with government agencies over roadway damage
  • Nuisance litigation relating to drilling, completion and gathering activities
  • Forced pooling and bad faith pooling disputes before Texas Railroad Commission and courts
  • Development of policies on guns, alcohol and drugs in drilling locations
  • Suits to quiet title concerning shale play leases
  • Litigation and counseling on working interest rights in shale plays
  • Opposition to frac ban legislation
  • Litigation regarding indemnity for royalty trust expenses

Pipeline and Other Energy Transportation

  • Injunction and other proceedings to enjoin and block development of oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure
  • Litigation regarding disruption of pipeline services related to hurricanes and application of force majeure
  • Force majeure litigation over a pipeline’s failure to purchase more than $10 million of steel pipe 
  • Counseling and advice regarding development of water pipeline project for Texas shale plays
  • Litigation regarding alleged corrosion to tanker railcars holding Bakken crude
  • Defended litigation concerning Lac-Mégantic railcar exploration in Canada
  • Analysis of congestion issues in Permian Basin

Oil and Gas Downstream

  • Petrochemical company – Arbitration over dispute with partner regarding interpretation of cracker/splitter joint venture agreement
  • Refinery – Property loss, OSHA investigation, and personal injury claims arising out of Pennsylvania refinery fire and explosion that killed five contractors
  • Refineries – Multiple suits regarding alleged purchases of stolen hydrocarbons
  • Refineries – Litigation in Delaware Chancery Court over gas-to-fuels technology
  • Refinery and petrochemical defendants – Defense of thousands of asbestos lawsuits in Texas
  • Refineries – Counseling, negotiations over EPCM and other contracts
  • Petrochemical – Dispute over accuracy of meter on pipeline
  • Refinery – Defense of force majeure claims as a result of fire
  • Refinery – Defense of railcar corrosion claims

Oilfield Service

  • Drilling contractor – Investigation and litigation over fracking accident causing property loss
  • Texas frac sand manufacturer – Defended against trespass claims in district court
  • Michigan frac sand manufacturer – Breach of contract case before AAA
  • Oil rig manufacturer – Wrongful death defense relating to oil field accidents

Off-Shore Oil and Gas

  • Pref right disputes in Gulf of Mexico transactions
  • Dispute over decommissioning off-shore oil wells and platform in Gulf of Mexico
  • Analysis and negotiations over indemnity and insurance provisions concerning billion dollar offshore Gulf of Mexico production platform
  • Negotiations and analysis of vendor contracts for major Gulf of Mexico construction contracts

Electric, Gas and Other Utilities

  • Electric utility – Multiple disputes before Texas PUC over right to build a 160-mile transmission line
  • Electric and gas utilities – Class action franchise fee lawsuits brought by 45 Texas cities
  • Electric utility – Dispute by city over construction of electric transmission line
  • Electric utility – Disputes before Texas PUC over ownership and routing of transmission lines
  • Gas storage – Claims that construction of facility damaged oil and gas reserves of surrounding property owners
  • Radioactive waste disposal – Rate and other regulatory agency disputes before TCEQ and TLLRWDC concerning the disposal of radioactive waste
  • Electric utility – Numerous lawsuits involving personal injuries and property losses arising out of electricity lines
  • Electric utility – Litigation on tariff limitation of liability provisions before Texas Supreme Court
  • Electric utility – Claims to recover billions in stranded costs on generation assets arising from deregulation of electric utility industry
  • Merchant transmission – CCN proceedings before Texas PUC
  • Electric utility – Litigation over royalty override in gas storage field in West Virginia
  • Arbitration over the recovery by an oil and gas producer of more than $40 million in costs relating to a Gulf of Mexico production platform

Renewable Energy

  • Wind generator – Landowner nuisance disputes
  • Wind generator – Claims by environmental group for injunctive relief to shut down construction of wind farm on Texas coast
  • Wind generator – Numerous disputed controversies before Texas PUC, including CREZ transmission lines
  • Wind generator – Analyzed claims and lawsuits in connection with multi-billion bid on wind assets
  • Wind generator – Defense of claims relating to alleged interference of AM radio frequencies by wind farm operator

Energy Trading

  • Crude oil traders – Defended against $300 million in claims arising out of purchases of allegedly stolen national gas condensate
  • Gas trader – Assisted in defense of various claims under NAESB contracts
  • LNG Shipper – Defense of LNG charges in London Court of International Arbitration proceeding
  • Crude oil traders – analysis of various claims and defenses relating to negative pricing of crude oil during April 2020

Complex Commercial Litigation

  • Restaurant –Texas counsel on claims associated with roll-out, construction, and operation of state-wide Texas restaurant chain
  • Nationwide retailer – Texas counsel on construction and roll-out of flagship retail store
  • Mall – Litigation counsel for claims pertaining to premier Houston-area shopping mall
  • Office and residential high rise buildings – Defense of numerous nuisance, warranty, construction, and tenant, indemnity wrongful death and personal injury claims
  • Auto manufacturer – Defense of numerous product liability, warranty, and other consumer claims
  • Equipment manufacturer – Defense of product liability, warranty and other consumer claims
  • Lift manufacturer – Defense of product liability claims
  • Numerous commercial enterprises – Issues involving indemnities, disclaimers, warranties and limitations of liability
  • Banks and corporations – Disputes with insureds over rights to corporate-owned life insurance
  • Life insurer – Defense of claim brought by Attorney General in dispute of thousands of allegedly unpaid policy refunds
  • Real estate developer – Litigation regarding City of Houston downtown tunnel dispute
  • Food distributor/manufacturer – Arbitration over costs pertaining to construction of cheesecake factory
  • Representation of real estate developer and REIT regarding shutdown and restart issues relating to COVID-19

Representative Reported Cases

  • Adams v. Murphy Oil, 497 S.W.2d 510 (Tex. App—San Antonio 2016; affirming that operator had no obligation to drill an offset horizontal well
  • GC Development v. Zayas, Civ. Action No. B-15-129 (S.D. Tex. 2017); affirming award of legal fees on breach of contract claim
  • Mayo Foundation Foundation v. Courson Oil & Gas, Inc., – S.W.3d –, No. 07-16-00022-CV, 2016 WL 5874962 (Tex. App., Oct. 7, 2016); affirming motion for summary judgment of construction on continuous drilling and retained acreage clauses in oil and gas lease
  • Cerny v. Marathon Oil Corp. Cerny v. Marathon Oil Corp., 480 S.W.3d 612, 614-25 (Tex. App.–San Antonio 2015, pet. filed); upheld lower court decision dismissing a family's nuisance and negligence claims against two oil companies for alleged health and property damage stemming from hydraulic fracturing operations near their home
  • Pemex Exploracion y Produccion v. BASF Corp., 2014 WL 1877656 (S.D. Tex. 2014); dismissal of claims for conversion involving allegedly stolen hydrocarbons
  • Ladd v. Silver Star I Power Partners, 2013 WL 3377290 (Tex. App.—Eastland 2013, writ denied); dismissal of windfarm nuisance claim
  • GRT, Inc. v. Marathon GTF Tech., Ltd., 2012 WL 2356489 (Del. Chancery Ct. 2012) (first opinion); dismissal of construction claims involving gas-to fuels refinery construction project
  • GRT, Inc. v. Marathon GTF Technology, Ltd., 2011 WL 2682898 (Del. Chancery Ct. 2012); partial dismissal of construction claims involving gas-to-fuels refinery
  • Pemex Exploracion y Produccion v. BASF Corp., 2011 WL 9523407 (S.D. Tex. 2011); partial dismissal of conversion claims involving allegedly stolen hydrocarbons
  • Coastal Habitat Alliance v. Patterson, 601 F. Supp. 2d 868 (W.D. Tex. 2008); dismissal of suit against coastal windfarm under the Coastal Zone Management Act
  • In re City of Wharton, 2005 WL 3214798 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2005); dismissal of gas utility franchise fee suit
  • Houston Lighting & Power Co. v. Auchan USA, Inc., 995 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1999); leading Texas case on validity of utility tariff limitation of liability provision
  • Reed vs. Prudential Sec. Inc., 875 F.Supp. 1285 (S.D. Tex. 1995); limitations as to 10b-5 securities claim
  • McIntire v. Rollins, Inc., 888 F.Supp. 68 (S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division 1995); dismissal of environmental claim against employee based on fraudulent joinder

Awards & Community

Named a "Local Litigation Star" by Benchmark Litigation, 2018

Recipient, Leon Jaworski Award, presented by the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary, 2015

Recognized in The Legal 500 U.S.A, 2013, 2014, 2016 & 2017

Rated “Leading Lawyer,” Nationally, for The Legal 500 U.S.A., 2020 

Recognized in Chambers USA, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, Rated “Band 1” Nationally for Oil and Gas Litigation, 2020

Recognized as "Best in Houston" by Houston Business Journal's Who's Who in Energy, 2013

Recognized as a "Trailblazer" for Energy/Environmental Litigation by The National Law Journal, 2015

Named one of the “Top Attorneys in Business Litigation,” by Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), 2008-2011

Recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer-Rising Star (Thomson Reuters), 2004 and as a Texas Super Lawyer (Thomson Reuters), 2006-2012, 2016-2017

Recognized by Super Lawyers as “Top Rated Energy and Natural Resources Attorney” in Houston, Texas, 2017-2020

Recipient, President's Award, presented by Houston Young Lawyers Association, 2012

Co-Chair, Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies Annual Summit, 2019 

Member, Texas State Library and Archives Commission Local Government Records Storage Task Force, 2012

Advisory Council, Houston History Alliance, 2015-2019

Recipient, Judge Thomas Gibbs Gee Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service, 2009

54th Annual Five Outstanding Young Texans Award, August 2003, presented by the Texas Jaycees

Five Outstanding Young Houstonians Awards, May 2003, presented by the Houston Junior Chamber of Commerce

Woodrow B. Seals Outstanding Young Lawyer of Houston Award, May 2000, presented by the Houston Young Lawyers Association

Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas Award, 1999 to 2000, presented by the Texas Young Lawyers Association

News

Insights

Events

Recent

2019 Baker Institute

For the third consecutive year, Baker Botts and the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute are co-hosting their annual energy summit. The event will provide a forum for key market players and decision-makers to gather insights into the future of the dynamic energy industry, ranging from oil and gas to electricity, renewables and technology.

2019 GCPA Spring Conference

Baker Botts is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor at the upcoming 2019 GCPA Spring Conference on April 16-17 in Houston.