It is without question that technological innovations have drastically altered the way that geologists and engineers perform their jobs. For the landman, change has been incremental. A county clerk still updates her index with a blue pen, some landmen still chain title on a yellow legal pad. Leases and assignments are executed in person over a cup of stale coffee. Nevertheless, there have been several innovations that have made the landman more effective.
The imaging of land records has made running title a more efficient process. If there is a lot of activity in a county, the wait for the index and the record books can be substantial. No company wants their title landmen standing idle around the counter waiting for their potential competitor to finish running title before they will be able to start on their title and follow on acquisitions. Imagers often move quickly through a section. The title landman will then be able to build his abstract and run title from his home or office. He will often have the advantage of working from two monitors and use an excel document to chain ownership. A long term advantage of imaging a section is the ability for the title or company landman to review instruments at a later date without having to rely on field notes for interpretation or a slog back to the courthouse.
Contact and Task Management:
Despite its many inefficiencies, many landmen still use email and legal pads to organize their daily tasks and store their contacts. Applications like Asana are more efficient at organizing projects, coordinating between team members, and creating and tracking task lists and workflows. It can also be utilized as a light CRM solution. The author likes to summarize every important call with a few notes because the next time he (or another landman on the team) speaks to a prospect about a deal, he will know what was discussed. The scheduling tool is also great for follow up. For example, if the prospect says that he will discuss the potential trade at the board meeting on Thursday, The landman should write a note and set my reminder to call again on Monday to inquire about the status of the trade after discussion with the board.
After the deal has been made, the important, but time consuming task of entering the acquired oil and gas leases into the land database must begin. There is not a perfect solution for lease management. Most companies do not have the need for an enterprise level solution for the landman. For creating a system where integration into accounting and division orders is not required, The author found Zoho Forms and Creator capable of providing the solution necessary for small to mid-size exploration and production companies. Both applications are cheap and foolproof after the application is built correctly. The data can then be exported into excel for manipulation. Forms can also be useful for building other exhibits such as a list of material contracts. Links for the form can be shared with others such as field landmen or an offsite land administration team to assist in data entry.
Data Software and Market Information
Oseberg and its competitors are useful for quickly gathering large amounts of data for analysis. For the landman, it is beneficial to see leasing and trading trends and to pull Oklahoma Corporation Commission applications and orders. A landman can quickly interpret reports pulled from these software programs to identify possible open acreage and other opportunities. Not to be discounted, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission database is still essential to pull well records as not everything is properly indexed in the third party software listed above.
The Future of Technology and the Landman
The landman still has much to gain by the introduction of more technology into his daily routine. Data management and integration can always be improved. Drag and drop templates for common forms such as letter agreements, letters of intent, pre-pooling letter agreements, oil and gas leases and assignments would save hours of time per transaction. The author believes that artificial intelligence engines will eventually replace the title landman and will be able to interpret and chain title. The amount of capital allocated to the land will ensure that developers of innovative solutions will be rewarded.
Stephen T. Clayman is a Petroleum Landman with an independent horizontal operator. He began his career in the oil and gas industry working worm’s corner and lead tongs for Cactus Drilling Company. Prior to his entry into the oil and gas industry, he served in the United States Marine Corps. He left the service as a Captain after two deployments in support of the Afghan War. He is a native Oklahoman and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He and his wife reside in Tulsa.