If your family holds mineral rights you inherited a blessing and a responsibility. A blessing because of the abundant wealth that could be right under your feet. A responsibility because there is a lot riding on your knowledge of oil and gas laws.
But even if you don’t know oil and gas laws inside and out, there is one failsafe you can put in place to guard against problems when you’re buying and selling minerals; the Certified Professional Landman (CPL).
Certified Professional Landmen are not your ordinary, everyday landmen. They are a cut above, a step ahead, and wise enough to know a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Certified Professional Landmen vs. Everyone
We’re not saying CPLs are the only legitimate landmen. Every landman started out as an information gatherer somewhere along the way. Some have reached the RL and RPL levels. But without the extensive experience it takes to even sit for the CPL the person interpreting your mineral deed is at a fundamental disadvantage.
Think of it this way. The landman without a CPL is like counselors. They can meet with you to discuss your issues, and nothing more. CPLs are like doctors. They can discuss your problems, identify the medical (legal) problem, and prescribe the right medicine (legal remedy).
Here are 4 more reasons you should only work with Certified Professional Landmen.
4 Reasons You Should Only Work With Certified Professional Landmen
1. We Hit the Books
To become a Certified Professional Landman you have to take a 2-day 16 hour test. But before you can even sit for the test you have to have 10 years of experience, and a 4-year degree. That alone tells you something.
But these aren’t just multiple choice tests. They are rigorous and demanding tests that require extensive knowledge of the oil and gas laws of your state. You have to determine ownership calculations for an operator, do an estate analysis, determine how the mineral interests flow to the heirs, and much more.
Certified Professional Landmen are the only people with the qualifications to definitively interpret legal documents and make accurate judgements about ownership.
2. We’ve Seen It All
Like any other profession, the best teacher in this business is failure. Ask any landman for his worst story from the patch, and he’ll give you an earful. You couldn’t throw a rock at an American Association of Petroleum Landmen (AAPL) meeting without hitting someone who hasn’t experience a doozy. Like the guy who went and leased thousands of acres that were already held by production and cost the company $30 million.
Given the staggering number of details involved in the mineral lease process, it’s easy for a newbie to miss a simple nuance. For example, if you’re an unleased mineral owner in a drilling unit and the operator did not approach you to lease they have to start paying you from the first date of production.
Conversely, if you’re unleased and they tried to negotiate terms with you, but you couldn’t come to agreeable terms the operator gets to recover 200%-300% (depending on the state) over and above their drilling cost before they have to start cutting you checks. If that happens, it might be four years before they recover their costs and reach pay-out.
There is no way to come across every situation in your first year in the field. Working with a CPL gives you security in knowing you’re working with someone who has seen it all.
3. We Follow the Directions
You can’t become a Certified Professional Landman unless you’re rigorous about details. The CPL knows how important it is that every word in a legal instrument be grammatically correct.
One comma in the wrong place of a property description can change the entire meaning of a deed.
The difference between “the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter” and “the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter” is 30 acres, and who knows how many tens of thousands in royalty payments.
You could also say the location of a well should be “1100 feet from the southwest corner of the northeast of northwest”. If somebody types it in as 100 feet from the southwest corner of the northeast of the northwest the surveyor goes out and stakes it where the permit says it should be. But because there’s a typo it’s 1,000 feet in the wrong direction!
This is not good for mineral owners, landmen, or producers. It’s easily avoided when you know the person you’re dealing with follows directions…literally.
4. We Are Journeymen, Not 9-5ers
More than anything Certified Professional Landmen are just that; professionals.
The CPL has put in the long hours. They have gotten up early, stayed up late, and stayed in some of the worst hotels this side of eternity. Because they love their craft and want to master it. They are lifelong learners who are exhilarated by what they do. Author Steven Pressfield once said:
The professional conducts his business in the real world. Adversity, injustice, bad hops, and rotten calls, even good breaks and lucky bounces all comprise the ground over which the campaign must be waged. The field is level, the professional understands, only in heaven.
This is what being a landman is all about. True landmen don’t bounce with the turning market. They stick it out, come what may. Because it would be easy to throw in the towel and do something else.
But to them being a landman isn’t just your job, it’s in your DNA.
If you’ve ever seen the old Waylon Jennings documentary My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, you’ve heard an old cowboy axiom:
Non-Cowbody: Are you a cowboy?
Cowboy: No ma’am, but I’ll do ‘til one comes along.
Do you think it’s time landmen universally adopt the same understanding for our profession? Isn’t it time we all agree that “landman” is not a job you get, but a title you earn? Leave a comment below!