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John Shepherd


555 17th Street, Suite 3200, Denver, CO 80202

John specializes in resolving disputes for oil and gas and mining clients.

He handles litigation in virtually all aspects of the energy industry, including disputes over royalty payments, operating agreements, purchase and sale agreements, gas measurement, gas balancing, indemnity claims, and challenges to permits to conduct operations on public lands. He also represents clients in administrative appeals before the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Forest Service, and the EPA, including challenges to penalties imposed by the Office of Natural Resources Revenue and the EPA.

John has substantial experience in arbitrations involving oil and gas issues. He has represented clients in arbitrations, testified as an expert witness, and served as an arbitrator.

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John has frequently represented clients in litigation throughout:

  • the Rocky Mountain states
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Louisiana
  • the District of Columbia
  • the Fort Berthold Tribal Court

He has represented clients in arbitration under:

  • American Arbitration Association
  • International Chamber of Commerce
  • The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

Energy and Natural Resources

  • Conduct gas measurement and royalty audits on federal, Indian, and fee lands
  • Advise clients on Indian and federal law aspects of oil and gas acquisitions
  • Guide oil and gas and mining projects through NEPA review and permitting process
  • Represent clients in appeals of ONRR royalty orders on federal and Indian lands

Client Results

Representative Matters
  • Defended gas producers in class action royalty lawsuits in Colorado, Oklahoma, and New York – claims successfully settled or resolved 

  • Defended challenges to class action royalty settlements – settlements upheld on appeal

  • Defended arbitration under International Chamber of Commerce for oil and gas project in Cameroon – award for defense, including attorney fees

  • Defended claim for breach of implied covenant to explore and develop oil and gas in Colorado – jury verdict for defense

  • Defended carbon dioxide producers in qui tam lawsuits challenging federal royalty payments – all claims dismissed

  • Defended claim for indemnity related to oil and gas operations – summary judgment for defense upheld on appeal

  • Successful resolution of lawsuit over ownership of rights in Haynesville Formation in Louisiana
  • Successful defense of environmental group challenges to drilling permits on federal lands in New Mexico, including motion for preliminary injunction — Dine Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment v. Jewell,839 F.3d 1276 (10th Cir. 2016)

  • Successful defense of claims for additional royalty related to downstream gas marketing — Lindauer v. Williams Prod. RMT Co., 381 P.3d 378 (Colo. App. 2016) (interpreting a lessee's "duty to market" in Colorado to allow deduction of downstream transportation costs)

  • Successful defense of environmental group challenges to oil and gas project on federal lands in Wyoming — Theodore Roosevelt Conservation P’ship v. Salazar, 661 F.3d 66 (D.C. Cir 2011) (upholding Pinedale Anticline project)

  • Successful appeal of BLM decision denying beneficial use of fuel gas to run federal unit – Wexpro Co., 174 IBLA 57 (2008) (reversing BLM)

  • Successful defense of gas balancing claims – Doheny v. Wexpro Co., 974 F.2d 130 (10th Cir. 1992)

  • Defense and settlement of EPA civil penalty order
  • Conducted emergency arbitrations under International Chamber of Commerce, successfully defending claims for emergency relief

  • Served as arbitrator in dispute over purchase of oil and gas properties in North Dakota

  • Served as arbitrator in dispute over operating agreement in Colorado


Bar Admissions


  • 5280 Magazine Top Lawyers, Natural Resources, 2015-2020
  • The Best Lawyers in America® Lawyer of the Year, Administrative/Regulatory Law – Denver, 2015, 2018
  • The Best Lawyers in America® Lawyer of the Year, Natural Resources Law – Denver, 2020
  • The Best Lawyers in America® Administrative/Regulatory Law, Energy Law, Litigation - Environmental, Natural Resources Law, 1995-2023
  • Colorado Super Lawyers®, Energy & Natural Resources, 2006-2018
  • Who’s Who in American Law
  • BTI Client Service All-Star, 2011

Professional and Civic Affiliations

  • The Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law, Annual Institute, Public Lands Program, Co-Chair, 2009
  • Institute for Energy Law, Executive Board, 2006-2011
  • University of Denver College of Law, Natural Resources Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence, 1998
  • The Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law, Trustee, 1993-1995
  • American Bar Association, Public Lands Committee, Chair, 1991-1993

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