Future need for landmen

  • 1.  Future need for landmen

    Posted 05-18-2020 11:14
    Edited by Robert Brock 05-19-2020 10:14
    It is past time for a frank discussion about the opportunities for landwork for the future.  There was an oversupply of both Oil and Gas before the corona virus and the shutdown by governments all over the world of the worlds economy and therefore the demand for oil.Not that long ago, there were over 1900 rigs running in the US. We now stand at less than 350. A year ago there were less than 1000 rigs in use. 1000 were too many, the wells we complete are so much better than those of several years ago we simply cannot support that number of rigs!  The industry needs far fewer landmen to support the number of wells we drill today than we did several years ago. I have been the business since 1978 and have watched the various slow periods as many of us have done, this is different, our companies can and have oversupplied demand with far fewer wells than we ever thought possible. Most basins have been leased and are HBP.  There will certainly be some leasing activity in the future but it will be a small fraction of what we have seen over the last 20 years. Leasing is what has driven the need for independent landmen. That is for the most part in the past. Fewer leases that need to be bought means far less landwork and the need of far fewer landmen. As companies are forced to downsize and merge, the need for in-house landmen has and will continue to decrease. As PE-backed companies consolidate and combine this will continue the result will be layoffs never seen before. The AAPL supports way too many schools that have land programs. This gives the students the impression that they can graduate a secure a land job, which jobs are not available. Most of these students have large student loans for a degree that will not help them find a job. It is very very sad, but the truth is we have too many landmen and many of them will need to change careers which will probably mean a cut in pay. It is better to start over at 30 than it is at 40 or 50 . This is a terrrible truth, but needs to be discussed by everyone in our business.

    Robert Brock CPL
    Jackfork Land, Inc.
    Oklahoma City OK
    (405) 840-5999

  • 2.  RE: Future need for landmen

    Posted 05-19-2020 12:36
    Robert Brock is exactly correct.

    The oil and gas business and booms and busts and the corresponding need for landmen can be compared in a way to the existence of war and peace and the corresponding need for soldiers, especially foot soldiers:

    When war comes, the need for soldiers is greatly increased, and many come to duty. Then when peace is made and the war is over, the need for soldiers, especially foot soldiers, is greatly reduced again, and many if not most, except for the lifers, are sent back home to civilian life. Adjustment back to civilian life can be a difficult thing.

    When oil and gas booms crank up, everyone and his brother and sister wants to become a landman. They come from everywhere, from all walks, to get their start as a field landman. They get accustomed to the pay, travel, excitement, comradery and the feeling of extra self-worth. But then when the boom is over and they're sent home because they're not real lifers and they're just not needed any longer, it a real bummer having to come down to reality.

    The truth is that anyone coming into this business like a foot soldier coming to war needs to be prepared to be sent back to civilian life at any moment. Anyone coming in hoping to make a career of it as a lifer needs to have something else ready and waiting, even in action on the side, to fall back on between more active times and booms. And that needs to be something that's related in one way or another to oil and gas land, like real estate or land surveying or right-of-way or GIS or forestry or environmental or property tax or minerals acquisition. The best way to do that is to get yourself a good formal education to build on, take good, solid building-block courses whenever you can, and develop your own business if you can so that you don't have to depend on someone else. Do that even if you're older.

    And speaking of AAPL dues from another thread, paying your AAPL dues every year is part of "paying your dues" for the privilege of being in the profession and being a member of a real professional society. Stop belly-aching about the annual dues. If you can't do without two fast-food meals per month to come up with whatever it is, $125 per year or whatever, then you should really question your commitment to the profession. And yes, AAPL is probably over-staffed and some staff are probably grossly over-paid, but that is no excuse for not being willing to pay the measly $125 or whatever it is for everything that membership in AAPL provides you during the year.

    Billy K. Lemons
    Pres. / Principal Consultant
    Resource Analytical & Management Group, LLC
    Mailing: P.O. Box 632400
    Nacogdoches, Texas 75963-2400
    844.936.2400 Ext. 1101 Office
    844.936.2401 Facsimile

  • 3.  RE: Future need for landmen

    Posted 05-20-2020 13:19
    Billy Lemons, 
    Well said my man! I started in Land in 1980 in Jackson, Mississippi and have been a member of AAPL from my first day doing land work. I was a Banker out of college, but once I learned the true definition of a "Banker"......."A banker is the kind of person that will lend you their umbrella when the sun is shinning and as soon as it starts to rain they want it back".....I quit the Bank and was lucky to get on as a Landman with a fine Landman Broker, Joe Ware. Taught me and others the real meaning of Land work and how to survive. I recently retired (last year) and had a great run.....laid off, out of work, back at work, etc. But I survived. Right now I'm tinkering around in real estate buying and renting small family houses.....and having fun!
    As for AAPL......they are the best in all ways. You nailed it Billy about dues! They have had to change over the years to new stuff and the environment and have done so for all these years! Because of my faithful membership over the years, and after Harvey hit and being flooded the AAPL reached out to me and many many others and supported us with grants and moral support! I couldn't have made it without them!
    So Billy, thanks for your words of honesty and encouragement and all the others out there in this boom and bust industry. When one door closes.....another one WILL open!
    God Bless to All,
    Roy Horne
    Retired CPL 
    Spring, Texas 

  • 4.  RE: Future need for landmen

    Posted 05-21-2020 12:28

    Billy, I wholeheartedly agree with you for the most part.  No occupation is completely secure from downturns and as Landmen we know the industry waxes and wanes. For that reason, we all need something in our back pocket for an alternative source of income during times of bust.  Our skills are easily transferred to other industries.

    I believe AAPL to be the Landman's greatest advocate and teacher.  I'm really not concerned with AAPL staff numbers or compensation.  Annual dues of $125 roughly breaks down to $2.50 a week and that amount is minuscule for the services we receive.  Lack of planning on the part of a Landman should not cause (something) to happen as a result of one's failure to act responsibly.  I like to believe that Landmen are proud, ethical, responsible custodians and advocates between mineral interest owners and producers.  We are not an entitled group of professionals. Texas Real Estate Commission, Texas Secretary of State, National Notary Association, and Texas Land Title Association doesn't wave or reduce dues.  I feel it wrong to ask AAPL to reduce or eliminate the annual dues this year.

    Mary Davis RPL
    Davis Synergy, LLC
    Hico TX
    (254) 784-3232

  • 5.  RE: Future need for landmen

    Posted 05-19-2020 17:23

    I started as an independent in 1977 and also have seen those ups and downs and spent 14 years working for a small exploration and production company.  I also agree with your statements wholeheartedly, as do most of the independent landmen who have been in the business for 40 or more years.  We have discussed the changes to where independents must work for brokers instead of directly for a company.  I feel fortunate to be able to retire this year at 65 and worry about those independents in the 55 year plus age group as most of them will likely be forced to change professions at a crucial time in life.

    Gayle Mason

  • 6.  RE: Future need for landmen

    Posted 05-19-2020 17:23
    My father was a wise man.  He worked for over 25 years in the space industry as a QA person, then when he was laid off from the space industry in the 1970's, he was hired by the O&G industry for a major as a VP, QA.

    He taught his children many things from this experience, but one which has been instrumental in our lives is "Always have a back up plan".  He also said that when you get a new job, start planning your move to the next job.  Always be forward thinking and prepared for the best, but plan for the worst.   For me, it meant if I was going to work in the minerals or energy industry, whether oil & gas, mining, wind, solar, geothermal, etc. , I needed to be prepared in advance for the booms and busts.  I needed to make sure that I had something else I could do for income when the industry is in a down cycle, and be prepared to move into that position at any time.

    I have been a landman for many years (sorry, not telling! but a long time).  Over the years, I have also owned several businesses not associated with the minerals/energy industry.  During one particular downturn, I went back to graduate school for an advance degree in order to branch out into another field.  It hasn't become necessary, but it has added to my repetoire of things which I can do and can manage.    I currently own 3 businesses and manage a non-profit in addition to my "day job" of being a consulting landman. And we have kept our debt small or not at all. We did not buy large homes and fancy cars during the boom.  We did not invest in super aggressive investments.  We have lived simply and humbly, but well, in spite of the economy, or the industry busts, of negative circumstances like Covid-19.

    My point here is that you are responsible for your own well-being and job security.  Be prepared for times like this.

    But for those who choose to pursue a career as a landman, make sure that you have a second career in mind.  And be prepared to be work very hard to be the very best you can be.  Watch for the signs of a coming downturn.  You likely won't see them all, and may still get caught by surprised. But, when it comes, expect that you, as a service provider (yes, even in-house landmen are service providers), will be one of the first punted out the door.  Be prepared for that and have your Plan B ready to go.

    My intent is not to be discouraging but to encourage you to stay positive and be pro-active, not re-active.

    Deborah Goetz, Ph.D. CPL
    President, CEO
    LANDRES Management Consultants
    Reno NV
    (775) 343-9704

  • 7.  RE: Future need for landmen

    Posted 05-20-2020 13:18
    I agree 100% with Deborah. You need to be diversified to remain self-employed. Even though I had plenty of other jobs, I began my journey as a legal assistant back in 1998, and stepped into the oil and gas world as a landman working for a broker in 2011. During my time in the law firm until now I have witnessed the roller coaster ride and decline in the oil and gas industry to know that I will always need to be prepared for the worst. We have nice things, but I don't live in a big fancy house, we don't go on big expensive vacations every year (even though I would LOVE to), and I keep a cushion in my account to prepare for the 3-4 months every year you can guarantee you probably won't have a lot of jobs. I definitely work off a tight budget.
    I work for mortgage companies, banks, lawyers, oil and gas companies. I became a certified signing agent to go and notarize signatures and assist in mortgage closings (pay is not good, and they won't reimburse mileage, but if you get enough of them it helps pay the bills). I am 51 years old now and definitely do not want to start over, nor do I want to punch a clock working for someone else making minimum wage. I am always planning and trying to come up with the next idea so I can continue to work for myself.

    Debbie Heinson, RPL
    HD Land Services, LLC
    Meade, Kansas
    (620) 629-5157

    Debbie Heinson RPL
    HD Land Services, LLC
    Meade KS
    (620) 629-5157

  • 8.  RE: Future need for landmen

    Posted 05-20-2020 13:17
    Another elephant in the room - software that is automating a good part of a landman's activities (Look at what P&P Oil and Gas is doing, for example...). For landmen with the interest to dive into newer tech, wouldn't that make them more attractive to employers - even if work is simply outsourced to them? I've been told that most landmen aren't interested in the technology route, but for those that are, I have to believe there's immense opportunity for them over others...

    Jesse Spencer
    Edmond OK
    (405) 418-7443

  • 9.  RE: Future need for landmen

    Posted 05-20-2020 18:21
    Edited by Terry Ruby 05-20-2020 22:49
    I am a retired landman.  Degree in Minerals Land Management (1982) started as an intern for Mobil Oil in 1981.  Many ups and downs throughout my career.  For me, mostly ups.  I was very fortunate as I made it through several layoffs.  Saved money when I could.  Loved land work and miss the job and my business associates.  Met and worked with some really great people who in retrospect I appreciate more than when we were working together.

    AAPL on the compensation survey used to ask, probably still does, something like "would you recommend Land / Oil & Gas to a friend or relative."  I generally said "no."  One of the reasons for "no" is that there are very low entry barriers to entering the field and calling oneself a Landman.  AAPL now requires a degree as part of its membership requirement, but the degree can be in music.  When times are good, the field becomes crowded with folks trained by brokers to run title or negotiate leases and Companies lower their standards for in-house landmen.   So, now, like production, landmen have become a victim of over supply.

    My guess is there will always be a need for landmen.  This has proven to be a cyclical business.  Land programs at universities come and go.  But, OU is perhaps the most enduring and valuable land degree, UT also.  In up times, Universities seem to be able to attract a bunch of students only to graduate them into a dismal environment, like now.  Happened to me as a graduate in 1982.  I made the best of opportunities that came my way and worked hard.

    AAPL is a great organization.  I am proud to be a retired member.  I took and passed the CPL twice, because the first time I couldn't afford to keep up with credits and lost my certification.   As far as dues, keep paying them.  For many, the differentiating factor of professionalism is your AAPL membership.   Outside of a University program, AAPL is the best educational source out there for Land, and certainly the best for continuing education.  AAPL has been a protector of the Land vocation and the best voice you have in the regulatory world - someone, somewhere, is always trying to put landmen out of business.

    Best of luck to all of you in these difficult times.

    Terry Ruby
    Retired Landman, Retired CPL

    Terry Ruby CPL
    Phoenix AZ
    (505) 699-7429

  • 10.  RE: Future need for landmen

    Posted 05-21-2020 12:28
    Hi Terry,
    I totally agree with you for sure! All you said is exactly right! Thanks for reply and the best to you and family! 

    Sent from my iPhone