Robert J. Burnett

Robert J. Burnett

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Robert’s practice is concentrated in business and commercial litigation, focusing in the oil and gas industry. Robert is the Chair of the Firm’s Oil and Gas Practice Group and has represented landowners and royalty owners in a wide array of oil and gas matters throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Robert has assisted landowners and royalty owners negotiate new leases, overriding royalties and participation agreements. He has also advised clients on lease preservation and maintenance issues. Robert has also advised clients on lease development and production issues, including the impact and effect of delay rental and shut-in royalty clauses, as well as the implied covenants to develop and market oil/gas. Robert has also represented landowners in connection with surface access and pipeline right-of-way issues.

A prolific author and speaker on numerous oil and gas topics, Robert is a frequent lecturer at Pennsylvania Bar Institute oil and gas programs and currently serves on the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s “Oil and Gas Law Advisory Committee.” He is also a contributing author of The Law of Oil and Gas in Pennsylvania (1st Ed. 2014), published by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s premier oil and gas law program, the annual “Oil and Gas Law Colloquium.”

Robert is a member of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners and is an active member of its Legislative Committee. He also served on the “Siting and Routing” Workgroup of Governor Wolf’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force. Robert also served on a select workgroup of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors responsible for updating and revising the “Oil, Gas and Mineral Rights Addendum” used in residential real estate transactions throughout Pennsylvania.

Robert is also a retired officer from the United States Army.

Areas of Practice

  • Oil & Gas
  • Litigation

Bar Admissions

  • Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit


  • Duquesne University School of Law, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    • J.D. cum laude
    • Law Review: Law Review, Member
  • John Carroll University
    • B.A.
    • Honors: With honors

Published Works

  • New Legislation May Allow Drillers to Revive Expired Oil and Gas Leases, 11.2017
  • Federal District Court in Ohio Rules That Chesapeake Did Not Breach Lease When it Deducted Costs From Royalty, 11.2017
  • West Virginia Jury Awards Damages to Surface Owner for Unauthorized Well Pad, 09.2017
  • New Royalty Bill HB 1708 Will Not Help Pennsylvania Landowners, 08.2107
  • Claim Based on Implied Covenant to Market Gas to Move Forward in Federal Royalty Litigation, 07.2017
  • Non-Producing Oil and Gas Lease Deemed Abandoned by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, 05.2017
  • Why the New Minimum Royalty Bill is Constitutional and Good for Pennsylvania, 04.2017
  • Landowners Beware: Warranty Clause in Oil and Gas Lease Can Obligate Landowner to Repay Signing Bonus, 03.2017
  • West Virginia Supreme Court to Reconsider Landmark Decision in Leggett v. EQT Production Company, 02.2017
  • The Difference Between a “Royalty” and a “Royalty Interest” Can Be Confusing and Costly For Landowners, 12.2016
  • West Virginia Supreme Court Declares that Minimum Royalty Statute Does Not Authorize the Deduction of Post-Production Costs, 12.2016
  • Ohio Supreme Court Declines to Adopt Blanket “At the Well” Rule, 11.2016
  • HB 1391: Putting Teeth Back in Pennsylvania’s Minimum Royalty Statute, 08.2016
  • Pooling Clause Not Necessary: West Virginia Court Finds Implied Right to Pool Exists Where Lease Silent, 05.2016
  • Driller Has No Obligation to Pay Royalty on Lost Gas, 05.2016
  • Pennsylvania Landowners May Not Own Oil and Gas Rights Under Rivers and Streams, 04.2016
  • Federal Court in Pittsburgh Questions Applicability of Kilmer Decision, 03.2016
  • Ohio Supreme Court Observes That Driller Cannot Maintain Lease Indefinitely by Paying Delay Rentals, 02.2016
  • Is the Implied Covenant of Reasonable Development Irrelevant?, PA Law Weekly, 10.20.15
  • Court Rules Severance Tax Does Not Increase Value Of Shale Gas, Therefore Not A Deductible Post-Production Cost, 09.2015
  • Landowners May Face Difficult Burden Regarding Intermingled Gas, PA Law Weekly, 08.11.15
  • Legislation Revived to Protect Royalty Owners in Pennsylvania, 06.24.15
  • A Possible Blueprint for Landowners Challenging Pipeline Companies, PA Law Weekly, 06.16.15
  • Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells – More Than Just a Rusty Eyesore, 05.2015
  • Not All is Quiet on the Quiet Title Front, PA Law Weekly, 02.09.15
  • Good News for Landowners Means Bad News for Trespassers, PA Law Weekly, 12.16.14
  • PUC Decision Suggests Pipeline Operator Has Public Utility Status, PA Law Weekly, 10.28.14
  • Local Zoning Ordinances May Hinder Oil/Gas Development, 10.2014
  • Pipeline Operators: Public Utility or Pipeline Futility, PA Law Weekly, 8.19.14
  • Superior Court Breathes New Life Into Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act, PA Law Weekly, 2.25.14
  • Failure to Tender Production Royalty Did Not Trigger Forfeiture Clause, PA Law Weekly, 12.31.13
  • The Status Quo Restored. The background of the decision that put the ‘Dunham Rule’ back in place., The Pennsylvania Lawyer, September/October 2013
  • Is Pa. Becoming a First-Marketable-Product Jurisdiction?, PA Law Weekly, 10.15.13
  • Has Forced Pooling Come to Pennsylvania With SB 259?, PA Law Weekly, 08.13.13
  • Pennsylvania Superior Court Rules Driller had no Implied Obligation to Develop Deeper Formations, 07.2013
  • Not Your Father’s Oil and Gas Lease, 06.2013
  • Marcellus Shale Gas is Not a Mineral. What Does This Mean for Lease-holders?, 04.2013
  • Can the Payment of a Shut-In Royalty Maintain an Oil/Gas Lease Indefinitely?, 10.2012
  • Federal Court in Scranton Rules That Litigation Filed by Landowner Did Not “Repudiate” the Lease, 08.2012
  • Federal Court Rules that Assignment of Oil/Gas Lease May Not Extinguish Liability of Original Lessee, 08.2012
  • Federal Court in Pittsburgh Allows Lease Cancellation Suit to Move Forward, 05.2012
  • Who’s Entitled to Free Gas?, 01.2012
  • Preliminary Operations Not Enough To Extend Lease into Secondary Term, 12.2011
  • Non-Production During Secondary Term Results in Termination of Lease, 11.2011
  • Subsurface Trespass – Can They Take the Gas Under My Property Without a Lease?, 07.2011
  • Adverse Possession – Can Surface Owner Acquire Title to Gas Formations by Mere Passage of Time?, 06.2011
  • The Accommodation Doctrine: Balancing the Interests of the Surface Owner and the Mineral Owner, 04.2011
  • Temporary Cessation of Production: How much time does a producer have under Pennsylvania law?, 03.2011
  • To Drill or Not to Drill – Does Pennsylvania Recognize an Implied Covenant of Further Exploration?, 02.2011


  • Held by Production: When is a Lease Actually Held?, North Carolina Pennsylvania Realtors Association quarterly meeting April 10, 2018 - Wellsboro, PA
  • The Myth of Held by Production: How and Why Leases can be Extended Without a Producing Well, PA NARO Annual Convention March 21-23, 2018 – State College, PA
  • Residential Real Estate and the New OGM Addendum Forms, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services March 13, 2018 – Butler, PA
  • Held by Production: When is a Lease Actually Held?, Town Hall Meeting January 30, 2018 – Liberty, PA
  • The New Pennsylvania Association of Realtors’ Oil/Gas Forms: What Real Estate Agents Need to Know, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services January 23, 2018 - Cranberry, PA
  • HB 557 and the Deduction Of Post-Production Costs, PA NARO Town Hall Meeting December 11, 2017 – Claysville, PA
  • The New Pennsylvania Association of Realtors’ Oil/Gas Forms: What Real Estate Agents Need to Know, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services November 8, 2017 - Pittsburgh, PA
  • Municipal Leasing of Oil and Gas Rights , Washington County Association of Township Officials Annual Convention October 5, 2017 – Washington, PA
  • PA Legislative Update: HB 557 and the Deduction Of PostProduction Costs, PA NARO Town Hall Meeting October 2, 2017 – Burgettstown, PA
  • The New Pennsylvania Association of Realtors’ Oil/Gas Forms: What Real Estate Agents Need to Know, September 21, 2017 – Bethel Park, PA
  • PA House Bill 557 and the Deduction of Post-Production Costs, PA NARO Town Hall Meeting May 15, 2017, Burgettstown, PA
  • Equitable Distribution Of Oil, Gas And Mineral Rights, Allegheny County Bar Association Family Law Section May 8, 2017 – Pittsburgh, PA
  • The Impact of Marcellus Shale on Residential Real Estate: What Real Estate Agents Need to Know, Butler County Association of Realtors April 20, 2017 – Butler, PA
  • The Robinson Township Decision and a Heightened Standard of Care For Municipal Leasing, Greene County Association of Township Officials April 10, 2017 – Waynesburg, PA
  • Unique and Complicated Issues That Confront Realtors in Completing the OGM addendum, November 15, 2016 – North Central Pennsylvania Board of Realtors – Wellsboro, PA November 10, 2016 – Berkshire Hathaway Home Services – Peters Township, PA October 17, 2016 – Berkshire Hathaway Home Services – Castle Shannon, PA
  • Municipal Ownership and Regulation of Oil & Gas – Are you Wearing Two Hats? , Allegheny County and Western Pennsylvania Association of Township Commissioners Annual Conference September 17, 2016 – Seven Springs, PA
  • HB 1391 , PA NARO Town Hall Meeting September 13, 2016 – Washington, PA
  • The Impact of Marcellus Shale on Residential Real Estate: What Real Estate Agents Need to Know, August 24, 2016 – Bethel Park, PA
  • Oil and Gas Title Law A-Z, National Business Institute June 15, 2016 – Pittsburgh, PA
  • Shale Energy Leadership Organization Summit II, April 28, 2016 – Hermitage, PA

Honors and Awards

  • BV® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating System
  • Who's Who in Energy by Pittsburgh Business Times, 2011 - 2017

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Pennsylvania Bar Association's "Shale Energy Law Committee", Member
  • Pennsylvania Business Institute Oil and Gas Law Colloquium, Course Planner
  • National Association of Royalty Owners, Member
  • Pennsylvania Chapter of National Association of Royalty Owners, Director
  • Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, Member
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association (Civil Litigation Section and Environmental and Energy Law Section), Member
  • Allegheny County Bar Association, Member