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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, property acquisitions, 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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Client Results

Representative Matters
  • Defend gas producers in class action royalty lawsuits in Colorado, Oklahoma, and New York – claims successfully settled or resolved 
  • Defend challenges to class action royalty settlements – settlements upheld on appeal
  • Defend arbitration under Int’l Chamber of Commerce for oil and gas project in Cameroon – award for defense, including attorney fees
  • Defend claim for breach of implied covenant to explore and develop oil and gas in Colorado – jury verdict for defense
  • Defend carbon dioxide producers in qui tam lawsuits challenging federal royalty payments – all claims dismissed
  • Defend 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
  • Intervene in lawsuit challenging BLM approval of oil and gas project on federal lands – see, e.g., Theodore Roosevelt Conservation P’ship v. Salazar, 661 F.3d 66 (D.C. Cir 2011) (upholding Pinedale Anticline project)
  • 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)
  • Gas measurement and royalty audits on federal, Indian, and fee lands
  • Advice on Indian and federal law aspects of oil and gas acquisitions
  • Navigated oil and gas and mining projects though NEPA review and permitting process
  • Appeal of ONRR royalty orders on federal and Indian lands
  • Defense and settlement of EPA civil penalty order
  • Emergency arbitration under International Chamber of Commerce
  • Serve as arbitrator in dispute over purchase of oil and gas properties in North Dakota
  • Serve as arbitrator in dispute over operating agreement in Colorado



Speaking Engagements


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, 1995-2020
  • Colorado Super Lawyers®, Energy & Natural Resources, 2006-2018
  • Who’s Who in American Law
  • BTI Client Service All-Star, 2011

Professional and Civic Affiliations

  • Co-chair of public lands program for the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation’s Annual Institute (2009)
  • Executive Board, Institute for Energy Law (2006-2011)
  • Natural Resources Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence, University of Denver College of Law (1998)
  • Trustee, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (1993-1995)
  • Chair, American Bar Association, Public Lands Committee (1991-1993)

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