Staying in the Game: 7 Tips for Independent Landmen

As an independent or staff landman in today’s market, you are trying to figure out if you are still in this game. Maybe you are wondering if you even want to be in the oil & gas land business anymore. Was your project discontinued? Were there major cut backs? Are you just worried that the future is bleak with all the bad news of layoffs and more?

Let’s face it, as a landman today, you are required to do more than you have ever done before. You must have a vast arsenal of talent and resources to stay relevant to an employer as well as the company that has hired them. This means that the typical landman needs to continue to be open minded about job opportunities, job performance, and going beyond what has been traditionally expected.

Landmen today should set in place a plan of action to help boost their confidence as well as organize their work habits. Here are 7 tips that can help you in this endeavor:

  1. Remove your fears. Remember the landman is the energy team’s most innovative and motivational member, so confidence in your actions is key to making all deals a reality. Have confidence in your ability, education and work product. You have spent years learning and honing your skills to do the best job, so why not tell others that you are the best? Remember telling the truth about one’s skill set is not boasting!
  2. Set goals and start with small steps. For example, let’s look at public speaking. If you are afraid to speak to crowds, start by speaking in front of a few friends then work to a larger audience. If you need help with using technology like some type of presentation software, start by asking the right people for assistance. This effort will assist you in attaining your goals one step at a time so you can continue to move ahead to the next set of goals you have identified for your professional growth.
  3. Take action. Don’t hesitate or procrastinate, but move forward realizing that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.  Make a plan, write it down and ACT on it. This is so important, as most people just think or talk about making a change.
  4. Use and improve your skills. Just like in sports, practice makes perfect. The repetitious nature of research, agreement creation, and negotiations make them ideal for improvement. Remember that you may need help from others to improve these skills or maybe just a little practice to get better. If you find that you are lacking in some areas, take classes, ask mentors or find an article published on the subject and read as much as you can about it. Many training courses and seminars are offered, so take advantage of all you can.
  5. Build a network. Whether it be locally or nationally, colleagues and friends can help you get the most out of your work. No matter if they are employed inside or outside of the energy industry, surround yourself with people who can help you succeed. Join groups or associations both in your home region and on the national level. Don’t be shy about introducing yourself and/or your achievements. Remember, everyone loves a winner.
  6. Ask for assistance. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone has asked someone for help at one time or another in their life. Understand that most people are very willing to lend a hand in solving a problem or two. They also don’t mind discussing their experiences, especially if it means that they can help someone achieve the same success they have achieved. Once you have succeeded don’t forget to say thank you and return the favor or pay it forward to the next person needing assistance. A good practice may be to look for a mentor, as there are many professionals that would love the opportunity to share their knowledge with a hard working fellow landman.
  7. Use technology. Technology has come a long way in recent years. With mobile apps, computer programs, search engines and smart maps, today’s landmen have a wealth of information tools at their disposal. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, as you will find that some companies are making claims they can’t support, and other companies are doing things nobody else is doing or has even thought of.  Just because it seems out of the norm doesn’t mean it is not the better way of completing the task. Don’t be afraid to try something new as the results might surprise you!Richard Hines, CPL - Vice President of iLandMan

Though these times may be trying as we maneuver through the current low commodity price environment, remember that opportunities only come around once in awhile. Take advantage of this time to improve your skills, investigate new technology that will help you get ahead of the rest of the industry, and make new friends. Yes, you can still be in the game, get ahead and even be a leader in the land industry with a little planning and effort!

Richard Hines, CPL – Vice President – iLandMan

Celebrating 30 Years in Exploration & Production Technology

Today is my 30th anniversary in the upstream oil & gas business. The market conditions on January 6, 1986 were very similar to what they are today. An oversupply of oil was causing low oil prices, massive industry layoffs, and rapidly declining rig counts. Just like today, very few opportunities were available for recent petroleum engineering graduates, but luckily I had secured employment with NL McCullough as a Cased Hole Wireline Engineer.

In 1986, the oil patch was a much different place than it is today. Exploration focus was on conventional reservoirs and 3D seismic interpretation was in its infancy. While wells were drilled directionally, especially offshore, no one had drilled a horizontal well, and no company had even considered completing a well in shale. Computers at E&P’s were mainframe behemoths accessed via a dumb terminal and PC’s were absent on office desks. There was no internet, email, or cell phones!Old Cray Computer

A few years later, I started on a journey to introduce new services and technology to E&P companies via the role of a sales professional with Weatherly Laboratories (PENCOR). My goal was simple; show E&P’s a better way. Through suggesting solutions to problems that add tremendous value, and provide better service than competitors, I could truly be a partner in their success. The result was and still is a high ROI for the E&P, profitability for my employer and a good living for my family. Eventually I started managing other salespeople, coaching them on how to utilize my methods to be successful in the oil patch.

Many technical changes have taken place in the upstream oil business since 1986. The majority of these changes are in exploration, drilling, and production. New seismic interpretation techniques allow us to further reduce exploration drilling risk. Horizontal wells have allowed a single well to access large areas of a reservoir. Oil and gas production from shale formations has shifted the world hydrocarbon supply dynamics, creating a true global market for oil and natural gas. Reservoir simulation and economic analysis can be run from a PC. EOR methods such as CO2 injection, thermal injection, microbes, chemical injection and pulse-plasma technology are allowing us to recover more oil from conventional reservoirs than ever thought possible.

During my hundreds of visits to E&P companies, I’ve noticed that many advances in technology have not reached their back office. It’s frustrating to see that the legacy systems created decades ago by E&P’s and outdated vendors are still in use, and require large teams of people to run them. New technology, such as shared resources via the cloud and cloud based software (multi-tenant deployment), has the potential to allow E&P’s to drastically reduce their software, hardware, and IT personnel costs.

Much to my surprise, landmen, unlike geophysicists, geologists and engineers, have not had access to commercially available software tools. Therefore, landmen have resorted to using spreadsheets and paper in attempt to manage the tremendous amount of data associated with their job responsibilities. The result has been inefficient processes and misguided decision making, costing E&P’s millions of dollars.

Five and one-half years ago, I was introduced to a company whose goal was to show E&P’s a better way to acquire, manage and divest land and leases. Realizing that bringing the land departments of E&P companies into the computer age was the last “digital frontier” of the oil and gas business, I joined iLandMan. During this time, it has been rewarding to witness the landmen utilizing a software tool to do a better job. The results for E&P’s is a saving up 30% of their land budget.TJ Westerhaus III, Vice President of Sales - iLandMan

A heartfelt “Thank You” to everyone along the way who allowed me into their offices to share with them “a better way”. Together, we have added tremendous value to our companies and continued to improve the upstream oil and gas business as a whole. I consider myself lucky to have been a part of this technical revolution and look forward to adding value to customers for many more years to come.

T.J. Westerhaus III – Vice President of Sales – iLandMan