In the oil and gas industry, there are many professions with their technical names, jargon, and important roles. One such job is that of a landman. If you’re involved in the oil and gas industry in any capacity, it’s worth knowing what different roles entail.
From discovery to production, there is the active involvement of tens of companies and hundreds of individuals, if not thousands. Whether the mineral underground is crude oil, shale oil, or natural gas, the industry employs and uses the services of many people.
Without a landman, it may be impossible for oil and gas companies to drill and extract.
Landman Oil and Gas
A landman in the oil and gas industry is responsible for dealing with landowners on behalf of an oil and gas company. This entity, individual or company, typically serves as the public-facing role for the company.
Typically, a landman’s job is to negotiate and finalize contracts with landowners with mineral rights to lease those rights to the company they represent. Similarly, landmen interact with owners regarding exploration if a company is interested in exploring minerals in a particular area.
Landmen have a wide range of duties they perform, but usually, paperwork and negotiation are their prime duties.
What Does a Landman Do?
Let’s dive deeper into the common responsibilities of a landman in the oil and gas industry.
The primary job of a landman is to negotiate with landowners or any entity on behalf of an oil or gas exploration or production company. They may work directly within the company or maybe contracted by them (more on that later).
Therefore, negotiation is a necessary skill for a landman. Common scenarios when a landman’s negotiation services are used:
- When a mineral rights owner does not want to lease the rights
- When landowners do not want to give up land for survey and exploration
- When mineral rights owners are asking for higher royalties
- When a party is disputing the mineral rights or ownership of the land
- When there are delays and other issues with payments
- When the lease needs to be renewed
For leases and agreements, it’s the landman’s job to arrive at a fair and equitable agreement, so all parties involved benefit from it. That’s their ethical duty, so to speak, but they are hired by oil companies, so that may not always be the case.
A landman may have to negotiate with multiple parties at a time, as often land and mineral ownership is divided amongst different parties.
Dealing with Paperwork
There’s a lot of paperwork involved in a landman’s day-to-day duties. They often create or verify documents like contracts, leases, agreements, and licenses. Aside from creating such documents, they may also be responsible for changing or correcting them should terms change during negotiations.
This means that a landman has to be proficient in understanding and drafting legally binding documents for oil or gas companies and the people they are dealing with. So it’s also like a regular office job at times when you’re not out on the fields, meeting and negotiating.
A landman oil and gas industry also needs to have knowledge about the geographical conditions, value, and history of the land their client or employer is pursuing. This calls for extensive research into the area and people of interest.
Interestingly, a lot of such information is not readily available online. Therefore, landmen also visit libraries, municipality record offices, and courts to do their research.
Many times their research also involves verifying documents, for example, ownership documents like a deed from public records.
They also need to be familiar with the laws and regulations regarding oil and gas exploration and production.
Types of Landman
According to the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL), there are three types of landmen:
An in-house landman or company landman works for the oil or gas company and is responsible for dealing and negotiating with people on the company’s behalf.
In other words, such a person is on a single company or group of companies’ payroll. They are also responsible for all the paperwork and research for the company.
Independent Field Landmen
Independent field landman works on a contract basis with different companies from the oil and gas industry. From negotiating leases to verifying court records, the contracted landman may have a variety of duties, all of which will be elaborated in the contract. They may work on a fixed pay or commission basis.
Independent Land Consultants
Independent land consultants are also private contractors and have all the responsibilities that a landman has. However, they are also responsible for the due diligence in selling and purchasing the land. Therefore, their paperwork job is slightly broader than a traditional landman.
Who Can Be a Landman?
Landman, as a profession, is open to anyone with the right set of skills and preferably knowledge or degree in land management. However, the degree is not an absolute requirement. It all comes down to negotiation, communication, and research skills in the context of land ownership and oil and gas exploration.
There are undergraduate and graduate land management programs one can take that are even accredited by the AAPL.
The AAPL also provides certifications that a landman can apply for and become an official AAPL-certified landman. These certifications include Registered Landman, Registered Professional Landman, and Certified Professional Landman. Only the third one (the highest tier) requires a bachelor’s degree.
A prospective landman can apply for certification online. However, certification is not compulsory for finding this kind of work.
A landman plays a pivotal role for oil and gas companies who often have to deal with many different parties, particularly land and mineral owners. The agreements and contracts can take a lot of time, even with a landman, so one can only imagine how tough it would be without one.
Many experienced landmen work independently and operate as a company whose job is to cover traditional landman duties for companies they contract with. Landowners and royalty receivers usually deal with landmen directly and not the oil or gas company.