To illustrate this point I went around the interwebs and I found a few job postings for in-house and field landman positions. I took some editorial freedom and combined them into a list of functions that each might be expected to perform. As you might be able to guess, I was able to find more examples of In-House job descriptions than field job descriptions. However, here is my compilation:
- Abstracts real property titles.
- Prepares runsheets and other ownership documents.
- Assists in acquiring oil and gas lease agreements and rights of way for pipelines, access roads, etc.
- Serves as company liaison with landowners.
- Settles surface damages and participates in surveying and permitting duties.
- Researches and responds to internal and external land related inquiries, Lessor relations and disposition of assets.
- Performs miscellaneous document preparation and damage settlements.
- Maintains a professional and technical knowledge by attending educational workshops, reviewing professional publications, and establishing personal networks.
- Review and clear title to well locations as part of managing a multi-rig schedule
- Acquire mineral rights and ensure maintenance of existing leasehold position
- Managing land brokers for lease acquisitions, title run sheets, curative and other courthouse work.
- Managing title attorneys for the preparation of Drilling and Division Order Title Opinions and confirmation of title prior to spud and production.
- Develop and maintain excellent mineral owner relationships as well as relationships with counterparts at other companies
- Negotiate and draft various agreements including joint operating agreements, joint venture agreements, AMI agreements, farm-in/farm-out agreements, acreage trade agreements, etc. to facilitate leasehold acquisition and operations as needed
- Interact with and provide Operations and Geoscience groups with land support and information critical to ongoing development of properties
- Participate in Federal and State Oil and Gas Lease Sale processes
- Participate in regulatory hearings, including live testimony if required
- Assist in the due diligence phase of producing property acquisitions.
The biggest roadblock I see to a field landman becoming an in-house landman is that you really can’t get any exposure to certain things. A field landmen will likely never do well trades with other operators and never negotiate a participation agreement or JOA. So what can the field landman do enhance his career and work towards an in-house function? I humbly suggest the following:
- Become active in your local association. AFTER you have developed a casual relationship with some of the people in the organization in leadership positions at oil & gas companies you could let it be known that you would be interested in learning the skills required to move to an in-house position. They might have an opportunity in their organization, or have a friend/colleague that they could refer you to. It’s imperative you don’t have this conversation with ‘strangers’, these are people you’ve regularly spoken with on a casual level for at least 6 months to a year.
- Seek out brokers that help with some of the in-house functions for their clients. Rest assured there are brokers that are doing lease analyst work, federal lease bidding, due diligence, and special projects that deal with documents like JOAs & Participation Agreements.
- Take some of the higher level AAPL classes to familiarize yourself with those topics. The first things that come to mind are the JOA Workshop, the (new) Due Diligence Seminar, and the Pooling Seminar. If you aren’t sure when classes are near you, check the AAPL Education Calendar.
- Relocate yourself to an area where in-house land professionals are needed. Places like Houston, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Pittsburgh. You are looking for a large collection of O&G corporate offices in one city.
- Take a step back to take a step up. You may have to take a job as a Land Tech or Document Specialist. Most offices are understaffed, if you show dedication and a desire to learn — you’ll be places on special projects and given more responsibility.
Do you have any other suggestions for transitioning from a field landmen to an in-house landman? Tell us about it in the comments below: