Book Review: Oil and Gas Title Examination

Oil and Gas Title ExaminationSo I’ve spent the last several weeks digesting a book by George J. Morgenthaler, Oil and Gas Title Examination.  The book is designed for attorneys who prepare title opinions, but it will be very useful to the experienced title researcher.  When a title researcher understands what a title examiner is looking for, it will assuredly help them to deliver a higher quality product.

When you purchase the book you will have the option of receiving an e-book version or a hard-bound copy.  I reviewed the hard-bound book, and I was particularly impressed with the quality of the printing and binding.  This book comes in a very nice hardback coupled with a beautiful dust jacket.  This is an author bio contained on the inside dust jacket of the book:

George J. Morgenthaler has examined titles and delivered title opinions in a variety of oil-producing states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, North Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Nevada, and Utah.  He served as senior vice president and general counsel of an NYSE-listed international energy company and as a transactional international energy lawyer.  He is a prolific author and speaker on oil and gas law and other topics.

The first chapter (About This Edition) explains a little about the history of the book and the author, Mr. Morgenthaler.  The original edition was published in 1982, and was a popular book.  However, as the oil markets crashed in the 80’s, so did the publication of the book.  It explains that the book required only minor editing, because this book is different from many other ‘title review’ legal books.  This book doesn’t really touch on issues that would change over time like state statutes, regulations, specific curative case law, and the like.  The intent of the book is to give the reader an understanding of the fundamental procedures and techniques used in title examination.  This might give you the impression that it is a book designed for beginner landmen, but that is probably not the case unless that landman has previous legal training.  This book is a great addition to the library of the landman with 5 years or more of experience, a new graduate of law school, or a seasoned attorney just beginning to render title opinions.

If you’d like to read a sample of Mr. Morgenthaler’s style of writing, you can check out the “About this Edition” and “Preface” of the book by visiting the  sample page for Oil and Gas Title Examination.

Mr. Morgenthaler has provided a link to the Table of Contents of his book, and if you review it you will see that it covers a great variety of subject matter.  It begins by discussing the differences in using title abstracts and directly examining records in the preparation of a title runsheet.  It moves on to have a lengthy discussion on federal title and federal oil and gas leases.  I would recommend this book solely for the section on federal leasing for those that are involved in it, or wish to be involved in it.  In fact, I was discussing the book with Austin Brister over at TheTitleExaminer.com and he told me that he owned the book and the first thing he mentioned was that he particularly liked the federal lands portion of the book.

The book goes on to discuss the different types of oil and gas opinions that may be rendered, and their individual uses — and includes a chapter giving some pointed advice on the preparation of those opinions.  When I read the chapter, I learned about what reasonable expectations to have of title attorneys preparing opinions on my behalf.

I really enjoyed two sections of the book near the end.  Both sections are a discussion of the twenty most common title defects.  The first covers fee leases, and the second covers federal leases.  While Mr. Morgenthaler does point out that there are hundreds of different types of title defects, these are obvious offenders that one should look out for when researching title and rendering opinions.  I know that I will certainly be referring back to these chapters.

Approximately the final 100 pages of the book contains appendixes A though H.  The appendixes are particularly helpful forms and examples of various types.  It includes examples of title opinions, forms for federal title examination, and forms for many types of agreements used in development (such as Surface Damage Agreements, Road License Agreements, Subordination of Mortgage, Correction of Legal Description of an OGL, various affidavits, etc).  I can appreciate that these forms will be very useful.  One thing I would have liked to have seen included was a CD with editable version of these forms, I think this would be a simple addition that would build value for readers.

As I mentioned earlier in the review, I believe Oil and Gas Title Examination is a great reference book for title attorneys and experienced landmen.  While Mr. Morgenthaler may discuss complex issues, it is written in no-nonsense plain english way that makes it an easy read.  I know that this book will be a great addition to my library, and I’d encourage you to check it out over at OGTitle.com.

Randy Young

Randy Young

Randy is a land consultant with experience in field and in-house land work, land administration, and software consulting with systems used in the land management business. He is an active member of the AAPL, HAPL, and NHAPL and is a regular attendee of industry functions. Randy's latest projects have included land data systems integrations, with a focus on Quorum Land System.