Author Archives: iLandMan

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

2015 HAPL Golf Tournament

“Is it going to rain? Is it going to be freezing? What are we going to do?” The forecast was grim last week for the 53rd annual Houston Association of Professional Landmen Golf Tournament, BUT… it turned out to be a pretty nice day! Cloudy but definitely comfortable, it was a great time as hundreds of golfers came out to Kingwood Country Club for the festivities.

2015 HAPL Golf Tournament - iLandMan - Kingwood, TX

Arriving early that morning was the iLandMan cooking team with a trailer full of equipment, ingredients, and some special treats for the golfers. We got our tents and tables set up as the players began warming up on the driving range right behind us. Vice President Richard Hines lit the fire on his custom cooking pot as he started to work on TWO delicious Louisiana recipes, gumbo AND jambalaya!2015 HAPL Golf Tournament - iLandMan - Kingwood, TX

We enjoyed visiting with all of the folks that stopped by the tent for a cigar and bite to eat as they played the course. All in all it was another successful event and as always, our hat goes off to the folks at the HAPL and Kingwood Country Club for running things so smoothly. Everyone seemed to have a good time playing golf, visiting, eating, drinking and more and we are looking forward to 2016 already!2015 HAPL Golf Tournament - iLandMan - Kingwood, TX

Look for us next at NAPE Denver, where we will be showcasing our newest features helping you to empower your landmen with an online, real-time, tract-based tool they can use every day!

If you have any questions about iLandMan, or want to set up a demonstration, please give us a call at 1-855-445-9629 or fill out our contact form.

For more pictures from this great event, check out the gallery below or view the album on our Facebook Page where you can tag yourself and your friends.

Staying in the Game: E&P Companies

You have watched the ping pong game of oil prices over the last six months and now you are trying to figure out if you are still in the game, or if you even want to be in the game. One thing to consider is that hydrocarbons as a fuel are here to stay. You won’t see jets or 18-wheel trucks being propelled by solar panels or wind turbines. Gasoline, as well as other various forms of fuel, are made from oil. So if you or your exploration company have felt a little down lately, don’t fret. Things will definitely change with time.

Recently, I have been seeing an interesting phenomenon. With a small window of price stability, exploration and exploitation deals are taking shape. All kinds of work is beginning to appear on the horizon in the form of mergers and acquisitions, due diligence, curative matters and title work, to name a few. Land expertise is needed in all of these areas, so if you are a startup or larger independent, things should begin to brighten by year’s end. I know many have incurred budget cuts and layoffs, but these will hopefully diminish as we go into the fourth quarter.Oil Prices Graph - Mar. 2015

Some really great gas wells are being completed from the Gulf Coast to the North East and, based on this, I predict that natural gas will be making a comeback. While it may be a while, we should see some action soon. Watching the emergence of LNG and its growth into a fully-fledged powerhouse is going to be very interesting. Companies with high gas-to-oil ratios are hoping for a strong comeback and a paradigm shift, making natural gas a must-have commodity.

From our vantage point we are seeing companies begin to take advantage of this lull in activity and a low pricing environment which is creating huge opportunities. I have also noticed that the companies that are truly organized are joining forces and beginning to make headway. Some, who are employing the use of cutting edge technologies, have begun to overtake and will eventually outpace the ones still using the big chief tablet and slide rule. As the old saying goes “one man’s loss is another man’s gain”.

However, most exploration land departments continue relying on antiquated accounting programs, excel spreadsheets, and hand-drawn colored or stagnant digitized maps. They keep trying to answer the most basic, as well as the most complex questions, that their systems and processes are simply not built for. These systems were built to report acreage from only a surface point of view. In today’s complex leases, a three dimensional view using depths and formations is necessary to analyze and make the right decisions based on ownership at these intervals.

New companies coming into the exploration and exploitation mix will be doing so with fewer personnel resources and more outside contractors. They will need software and mapping services that can extend the capabilities of their companies. These companies as well as the established E&P’s need to examine all the options available to help understand and use the data from the many acquisitions that are starting to take place.

With the great strides made in land software technology, companies need to investigate what is available, especially in the areas of leasing, curative, drilling and production. Just as the shift to using three dimensional data in seismic changed everything for the geophysical departments, viewing land data in three dimensions is now changing everything for land departments. These innovations are helping companies to understand the massive amounts of data being exchanged in the acquisition and divestiture market.

iLandMan allows you to depth segregate your tracts and leases so as to ascertain what your ownership, working interest, and even royalty or overriding royalty interest is on a formation by formation basis. This increases accuracy when determining which acreage is expiring based on pugh clauses or money owed on acreage from shut-in wells. The land department now has the ability to not only answer today’s common questions, but also the complex questions of tomorrow.

Richard Hines, CPL - Vice President of iLandMan

Take advantage of this time to investigate, act and ensure your company has the technology that will help you get ahead. By keeping watch on industry changes and newly available tools, your company can stay in the game, get ahead of the pack, and even become an industry leader.

Richard Hines, CPL – Vice President – iLandMan

2015 OCAPL Sporting Clays Tournament

The 2015 OCAPL Sporting Clay Shoot, benefitting the Oklahoma Youth Hunting Program, started off with a bang last Friday. Participants came from all over the great state of Oklahoma and beyond to take out their commodity price anxiety on some unsuspecting clay pigeons. iLandMan was there front and center serving donuts to the hungry and coffee to the caffeine addicted from 7AM until the last shot was fired. The caffeine boost seemed greatly appreciated, especially for the early bird group, while the donuts provided a nice little sugar rush and were even consumed as dessert in the afternoon.

Hank Latimer, Tiffany Patterson

Despite the market down turn, the event turnout was strong and sprits were high (at least prior to stepping out on the course). An air of cautious optimism could be felt throughout the crowd of oil and gas professionals, most of whom when asked, were staying busy and happy to ‘still have the lights on.’

2015 OCAPL Clay Shoot - iLandMan - Guthrie, OK

As anyone from Oklahoma knows, it’s tough to beat low-80s for daytime highs in August, making the weather for the clay shoot the best folks had seen in years. Here’s to that trend continuing through this weekend’s football kickoffs. By day’s end the OCAPL crew decimated a full 12 dozen donuts, 10 gallons of coffee, 20,000+ clay pigeons, and a few egos (some shattered, mostly bruised). In our book, regardless of your scorecard, that sounds like a pretty good day at the “office.”

2015 OCAPL Clay Shoot - iLandMan - Guthrie, OK

As September begins, so to does the new calendar year of local land association events. Please be on the lookout for your iLandMan mid-continent team at many of these events, starting with the OCAPL meeting on September 14th, and if you want to know how it feels to score a dead pair on the land software range, schedule your iLandMan Demonstration today!Hank Latimer, RPL, Account Executive, Mid Continent Region - iLandMan

Hank Latimer – Account Executive, Mid-Continent Region – iLandMan

Look for us next at NAPE Denver, where we will be showcasing our newest features helping you to empower your landmen with an online, real-time, tract-based tool they can use every day!

If you have any questions about iLandMan, or want to set up a demonstration, please give us a call at 1-855-445-9629 or fill out our contact form.

For more pictures from this great event, check out the gallery below or view the album on our Facebook Page where you can tag yourself and your friends.

Summer NAPE – 2015

It was a long and successful week in Houston for Summer NAPE 2015. After finally figuring out our travel plans from south Louisiana, we really enjoyed the new show format, with a half day of exhibiting on Wednesday afternoon, followed by a full day on Thursday.

Summer NAPE 2015 - iLandMan - Houston, TX

Construction at the George R. Brown Convention Center coupled with some crazy storming weather made getting into the show very interesting, but neither seemed to deter hundreds of companies and thousands of visitors from hitting the floor.

Summer NAPE 2015 - iLandMan - Houston, TX

Demonstrations of our latest developments in lease management, along with looks at our growing list of powerful core features, made for an interesting day at the booth. We met with curious guests from all walks of the oil and gas life, and enjoyed fielding questions about our software and talking about the industry.

Summer NAPE 2015 - iLandMan - Houston, TX

Look for us next at NAPE Denver, where we will be showcasing our newest features helping you to empower your landmen with an online, real-time, tract-based tool they can use every day!

If you have any questions about iLandMan, or want to set up a demonstration, please give us a call at 1-855-445-9629 or fill out our contact form.

For more pictures from this great event, check out the gallery below or view the album on our Facebook Page where you can tag yourself and your friends.

2015 PBLA Eric Hanson Memorial Sporting Clay Shoot

According to the organizers, this year’s Permian Basin Landmen’s Association Eric Hanson Memorial Sporting Clay Shoot was the biggest they’ve ever had! Over 500 participants happily endured the 100+ degree temperature for some shooting fun out at Jake’s Clays in Midland.

2015 PBLA Clay Shoot - iLandMan - Midland, TX

To get the morning started, the iLandMan team provided some fresh Starbucks coffee and the folks over at Transglobal Services had some delicious breakfast burritos. Transglobal, with some help from Mac’s Bar-B-Q & Catering, also had an amazing spread for everyone during the day.

2015 PBLA Clay Shoot - iLandMan - Midland, TX

2015 PBLA Clay Shoot - iLandMan - Midland, TX

With good food, friends, shooting, and over 50 door prizes, it really was a great day out in Midland. Our hat goes off to all of the participating companies, sponsors, and especially the volunteer team from the PBLA.

2015 PBLA Clay Shoot - iLandMan - Midland, TX

Look for iLandMan next week at Summer NAPE where we will be showcasing our newest features helping you to empower your landmen with an online, real-time, tract-based tool they can use every day!

If you have any questions about iLandMan, or want to set up a demonstration, please give us a call at 1-855-445-9629 or fill out our contact form.

For more pictures from this great event, check out the gallery below or view the album on our Facebook Page where you can tag yourself and your friends.

New E&P companies deserve, and should demand, a new status quo.

One of our competitors (that I hold in very high regard), wrote a great article on the need for oil and gas lease brokers to change the “status quo” of how they work. The gist of the article pointed out that for lease brokers to stay in business, they would have to adopt new technology to bring value and cost savings to their clientele. The “status quo,” he said, just won’t do. I couldn’t agree more, but then again I am biased, because that technology is what we sell.

Expanding on that theme, I suggest that it’s time for the oil and gas companies themselves to lead the way with adoption of new technology. It seems only obvious to me that if they want to cut their E&P cost, the first place to start is with lease acquisition. After all, these are the core assets of any E&P and the very basis of all company value. What they own is what they are worth.

Stack of Stuffed Manila FoldersWe all know the present status quo: The E&P company landman hires a lease broker to buy leases and the lease broker hires subcontractors (field landmen) to do the leg work. The field landman creates reports and paper files for the lease broker. The lease broker’s staff recreates the same reports, along with more copies, and then sends them to the E&P client. At the same time, that E&P client is receiving different reports in different formats from multiple brokers. The lease analysis staff recreates the “lease folder” with the new reports, along with more copies. Then it goes to the accounting department, who makes more copies, creates more files, and does more data entry. Finally, when this absurd dance is done, it all goes into filing cabinets, or if they are really cutting edge, some PDF “filing cabinets”.

After all this mailing and emailing of files, copying of paper, and creation of new reports from the same data, what has been accomplished? The E&P still doesn’t know what they own. Many E&P’s think that their best bet is to put all of that into an accounting database… built 30 years ago… before the internet and online software.

The data is not put into a database by the field broker who is the source of the information. This is what is needed to really tell them what they own. Instead, the process looks more like our industry’s version of the children’s game “Telephone:” What the field landman told the broker, who told the lease analyst, who told the database operator, who told the accounting department, who put that info into a database that might be older than he/she. What can go wrong with that, besides the fact that it’s always several months behind and will never give them an accurate acreage number?

With the sales of large acreage positions from company to company, a large part of our business is now taking lease files and data from the older database models, and converting it all to modern data formats. What we have found is that the acreage counts are always, and I mean always, wrong on an average of at least 20%. Within modern tract-based lease management software, the brokers doing the field work are instructed to use the same database platform to perform all tasks including title, negotiations, lease preparation, mapping, title curative, and more. The new lease files are going digital, paperless, accurate and linked to real time GIS mapping, and cost are dropping quickly and substantially.Tim Supple, President - iLandMan

If you are still having your staff or brokers build new “lease files” from old “lease files”, you really should look at what is possible with new technology.

New companies, new technology, new “status quo”.

Tim Supple – President – iLandMan

Oil Crisis: Is anyone guarding his assets? Anyone? Anyone?

I’ve been wondering about something lately and have been asking around. The reaction I get reminds me of the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. Remember the teacher asking the class history questions, getting no response, and saying “Anyone, Anyone”?

Ferris Bueller - Ben Stein - History TeacherHave you heard of the term “contango”? This is a situation where the futures price (or forward price) of a commodity is higher than the expected spot price. Sound familiar? This is what is happening with oil today; “I’m not selling my oil today, because it will be worth more tomorrow.” In the past, producers would produce the oil or a buyer would buy oil today and store it, and then wait for prices to go up before selling or simply forward sell at the higher price. The trick is that the cost of storage has got to be lower than the spread between the spot price and futures price. This is an old technique in our business, but now has a new twist.

E&P companies, primarily in the shale, are doing something unusual. They are drilling wells, but not completing all of them. As a general rule in 2013 The Hess Corporation said the average cost to drill a well in the Bakken was $4.8 mm to drill and $3.0 mm to complete. The backlog of wells drilled, but not completed, has been given the name “fracklog”, and it’s a growing trend. According to Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, “About 85 percent of U.S. wells aren’t being completed right now…” Bloomberg reports that there are over 3,000 of these wells.

Let’s say you drill, but don’t complete the well, to save the “completion cost,” hedge your bets, and wait for higher prices. You are effectively storing the oil in a natural reservoir (“contango”) and building a fracklog inventory. The big question is, how are your leases going to be maintained? Every lease I have ever seen, and that’s a whole lot of leases, has a shut in provision which allows the operator to pay to extend the lease beyond the primary term if the well is shut in, but only for a fixed period of time and usually only if it is “capable of producing”. What I don’t know is whether or not this growing list of fracklog wells can be classified as “shut-in”?

What happens if the same lease has vertical or horizontal pugh clauses? It is estimated that over 65% of leases taken in the shale plays contain horizontal and/or vertical pugh clauses, with an even higher rate of horizontal and/or vertical segregations on resulting assignments. I’m calling this the “commoditization or valuation on a formation basis.” The question I have is will the shut-in payment on non-completed wells hold all of the lease or only the unitized/pooled acreage by depth or even any of the lease? If it does, what about the non-pooled acreage and all “deeper” depths?

This is not just an academic question. It is truly a big financial question. If these non-completed wells cannot hold lease acreage or deeper depths, how will that affect the “reserve” values of the companies? I was looking at the difference between Proved Developed Producing Reserves (PDP) and non-producing reserves (which goes by many names, like Proved Undeveloped Reserves, Potential Reserves, and Resource Potential) listed on the investor presentations of several big shale E&P companies. What I found interesting is the huge spread between the two categories! Non-producing reserves were usually around 6-10 times greater than Proved Develop Producing reserves.

So the question still remains, if you don’t complete the well, how are you going to hold all those leases, which obviously hold all those reserves, which make up a major portion of the company asset value? After speaking with a number of oil & gas attorneys and principles of E+P companies, I haven’t found anyone who feels confident about an answer in either direction.Tim Supple, President - iLandMan

I think it is going to be a huge factor in how a company maintains its “undeveloped” acreage position and thus its balance sheet asset valuations. We have spent a year developing our program to tell you exactly which leases, which depths, and what acreage your company will lose and how much it will cost to keep that acreage for the next year.

So what do you think about the scenario at hand? Anyone? Anyone?

Tim Supple – President – iLandMan

NAPE Summit – 2015

Another big NAPE aka Winter NAPE aka NAPE Summit has come and gone, and no matter what you call it, it was a great show! Nearly a thousand exhibitors and thousands of attendees packed the George R. Brown Convention Center for the big event. If the Icebreaker was any indication, this was going to be one heck of a show.

NAPE Summit - Feb. 2015 - iLandMan - Houston, TX

With genuine Louisiana King Cake up for grabs, the iLandMan team was fueled and on its feet all day answering questions and offering demonstrations of our latest features, and sneak-peeks of our upcoming releases.

NAPE Summit - Feb. 2015 - iLandMan - Houston, TX

We were also very excited to have a group of aspiring young oil and gas professionals stop by the booth from the Oklahoma University Energy Management Program. Our very own OU alumni Hank Latimer was more than happy to talk shop with them and share some iLandMan insight.

NAPE Summit - Feb. 2015 - iLandMan - Houston, TX

Look for us next at NAPE Houston, where we will be showcasing our newest features helping you to empower your landmen with an online, real-time, tract-based tool they can use every day!

If you have any questions about iLandMan, or want to set up a demonstration, please give us a call at 1-855-445-9629 or fill out our contact form.

For more pictures from this great event, check out the gallery below or view the album on our Facebook Page where you can tag yourself and your friends.