By Younas Chaudhary
I stumbled onto the venture of leasing and buying oil wells in rural Kansas in 1979 without any prior knowledge of the oil and gas industry whatsoever.
Interestingly, I met a local farmer who proudly told me soon after arrival that a bunch of lease hounds were after him. At first, I thought he was being chased by fierce dogs!
My first meeting with a local landman came a few days after landing in Kansas with embarrassment when a young lady was introduced to me as a landman. I asked her, “you meant, landlady?”. She replied no and that she was a landman!
The landman plays an indispensable role in oil and gas exploration and production. Thanks to the kindness of rural Kansans teaching me about the ins and outs of the industry, I eventually built a successful business. The landman I came around and met in those days were happy to explain lease documents and how to secure an “Oil and Gas Lease,” which back then was a preprinted form on legal size paper on which a landman would fill-in the date, names, land descriptions, terms, acreages, and then secure signatures from the mineral owners.
With no former landman schooling, I quickly grasped basics of oilfield leasing and was forced to get into intelligent conversations with the local farmers who wanted to lease their mineral rights to me. For example, I could describe the location of their lands, like the Southwest Quarter of Section 35, Township and Range and I could read oil wells leasing maps. Within weeks after arriving in Kansas, I started leasing the oil and gas rights from these farmers. The process was not easy. I would travel to Wichita to buy maps and spent countless hours studying and understanding the oil leasing business.
The landman plays a critical role in negotiating the terms of a lease, acquiring, and managing the rights to explore oil and gas resources in a particular area. Today, most landman are well-educated with a law degree unlike when I started it was more a hit and miss approach. A good landman has a deep understanding of the oil industry, legal knowledge, and great interpersonal skills to work effectively with landowners and farmers.
Without a landman there is no oil company. The landman is the storyteller, the chronicler of the land that has the potential resources for drilling, exploration, and production. The landman’s work is like the foundation of a new house you are building. A good landman should be likeable, patient, hardworking, knowledgeable and is a great negotiator who can understand the needs of both the seller and the buyer.
As my oil business grew, I sought out the most reliable landman to show me areas that had more potential. Technology has changed how we work today, and we can get an in-depth analysis of a particular area before sending a landman to talk to the landowners. However, this does not discount the importance of a landman in the oil business, instead, it amplifies the landman into a deeper role.
In the eighties and nineties, I excelled as a landman negotiating several oil deals that taught me the foresight, intuitive thinking, and envisioning of the future.
Thanks to the landman, I succeeded in my oil business. Interestingly, many leaders in the oil and gas industry today are those who started as a landman in the early stages of their careers. Stay Blessed!
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.