Prominent Ascension Parish businessmen in another legal dispute with ExxonMobil company


Editor’s note: This story has been updated since it was first published with additional information from James H. Boyce III and his attorney.

A company affiliated with ExxonMobil says two prominent Ascension Parish businessmen are responsible for dredging that threatens company pipelines. 

ExxonMobil Pipeline Company is asking a federal court to prohibit James H. Boyce Jr. and James H. Boyce III from digging into the soil within rights-of-way it says it controls in Ascension Parish. 

EMPCo operates nine active pipelines transporting hydrocarbons, including natural gas, within the rights-of-way, the company says in a court filing. While the defendants claimed they were only clearing out an existing feature, the company says they were “dredging beyond existing features in a way that could cause damage and destruction to its pipelines and ultimately cause a catastrophic incident.”

“A pipeline owned by another company that is adjacent to EMPCo’s pipeline has already been struck by Defendants’ heavy equipment during its dredging operations,” the filing states. 

Daily Report reached out to attorneys for both sides but did not hear back in time for publication. 

Members of the Boyce family have diverse business interests in Ascension and a history in local Republican politics. They also appear to have a history of disputes with EMPCo over the rights of way. 

The pipeline company and its predecessors have constructed several pipelines on property that came to be owned by James Boyce Jr. and Coastal Rental Company, now known as Coastal Rental LLC. Beginning in 2005, Boyce began to deny the company access to the property via roads its representatives had previously used, according to a court filing. 

The supervisor of a ground maintenance crew testified that Boyce told him “that if [he] took one more step toward [Coastal’s] property [he] wouldn’t be going nowhere but to jail.” EMPCo sued for access and lost at the trial court level, though the decision was reversed on appeal in 2008, records show.

After publication, Boyce III and his attorney, Charles Blaize, contacted Daily Report to say the dispute has been resolved. Blaize says he filed a consent judgment today, agreeing not to dig within the right-of-way without giving EMPCo 10 days notice and the ability to be present.

Boyce III says a third party’s unmarked line was struck but say it was not damaged, adding that a representative of that company, as well as EMPCo, was there when it happened.

“We followed all the rules,” Boyce III says, adding that he has never been sued before despite his numerous businesses. “We have over 50 lines that run through our family property. We know all about pipelines, and we deal with these people all the time.”