Oil & Gas

Published: Sep 12, 2022 | Updated at: Sep 12, 2022

Does it surprise you that the oil and gas industry in the U.S. employs more than ten million people? With so many different positions in the industry, both direct and indirect, it makes sense that it hires such a large portion of American workers. 

One exciting position in oil and gas is that of a landman. Curious to know more about this job? Then keep reading as we explore everything there is to know about landmen, their responsibilities, and how to become one.

What Is a Landman?

A landman in oil and gas is a job title for a land management professional. Landmen usually work for oil and gas exploration companies to provide administrative and supervisory tasks.

Landmen are part of the team who negotiates and interacts with landowners to acquire oil, gas, minerals, or other energy lease agreements. The position of landman is a public-facing role, meaning the landman represents the oil company in meetings and negotiations. 

Some may use the terms landman and right-of-way (ROW) agents interchangeably. However, their responsibilities are quite different.

For instance, ROW agents handle projects involving linear corridors that span several states. On the other hand, landmen handle site-specific projects (such as drill sites) and leases.

Additionally, landmen aren't specific to the oil and gas industry. Several other industries use them, including:

  • Lumber companies
  • Mines companies
  • Telecommunications companies 
  • Water companies
  • Wind companies

You'll also find landmen on pipeline and power projects.

Landman Responsibilities

The landman has many responsibilities, so you need to have a unique set of skills to fill the position. Let's delve into some of the most essential landman duties.

Research Property Ownership Titles

If an oil and gas company wants to lease the drilling rights on a piece of land, the landman will research the property records to determine the mineral ownership.

In most states, the mineral state owner differs from the surface rights owner. Thus, the landman needs to research titles and deeds from historical records and court documents to determine the property's mineral owner (or owners). 

Additionally, owners usually don't live on the land the oil company wants to lease, so the landman will need to track down their contact information.

When researching ownership information, the landman may also identify related documents, such as joint ventures and other oil and gas industry agreements. 

After researching ownership, deeds, and titles, the landman needs to see that the documents are clear. A clear title proves that the mineral rights owner has the legal rights to lease out the land. Nothing can progress without a clear title.

At this stage, a title lawyer may also review the title with the landman to ensure the owner can actually lease the land. However, it's best for landmen to have paralegal experience to help them succeed in the position. 

Legal knowledge, though not a must, is a significant benefit for landmen since the position deals primarily with contracts and other legal paperwork. 

Mineral Rights Acquisition Negotiations

Once the landman knows who the mineral rights owners are and that the title is clear, they can begin negotiations. 

The landman will compile reports for the owners and draft a lease for the mineral rights on behalf of the oil exploration company. The lease will include an upfront payment and a royalty provision. Royalties are often 20-25% of the after-cost profits. 

Once both parties sign the lease, the landman will begin identifying drilling locations. Landmen often partner with a geological development team to determine the best drilling locations.

They also need to support the drilling and operations staff through daily tasks.

Maintaining Leases and Business Agreements

Landmen are responsible for staying on top of the lease agreements and meeting the requirements.

For example, if the oil company fails to keep its royalty payments to the mineral rights owners, the owners could terminate the lease or sue the company. Thus, the landman must ensure that the oil company never lapses on the agreed-upon terms.

This often requires the landmen to work with other departments and positions, like finance, to coordinate efforts. 

They must also resign the lease agreements when necessary and enter additional contracts with outside companies to assist with finance and production activities. The landman is the one who connects all the moving pieces of oil exploration, production, and refinement.

Admin Work, Auditing, and Reporting

Lastly, landmen must keep detailed and up-to-date records of all the business's activities. They prepare reports and present findings to management teams. Further, they will submit audit reports to investors and shareholders. 

Types of Landmen

There are three main types of landmen with varying degrees of responsibility. Let's explore them more in-depth.

In-House Landman

The first type of landman is an in-house landman. In this position, you work directly for an oil company or oil and gas exploration company and supervise a team of landmen. 

In-house landmen share the responsibilities mentioned above. However, they do it on behalf of the oil and gas company that hires them. This means they still:

  • Acquire leases
  • Clear titles
  • Draft contracts
  • Ensure compliance
  • Prepare land for drilling

Independent Field Landman

Another type of landman is the independent landman. If you are in this position, you usually work under the guise of a land negotiator or senior landman. Common duties include:

  • Researching courthouse records
  • Finding minerals and landowners
  • Preparing reports
  • Negotiating leases
  • Obtaining curative documents
  • Conducting surface inspections 

Although many of the responsibilities are the same, this position lacks seniority. That's because of all the landman jobs, this one requires the least formal education. Thus, you can think of the independent field landman as a way to gain experience before moving to a higher position in the field.

Independent Land Consultant

Land consultants are landmen who work on a contract basis. Their duties are the same as an in-house landman, but they also perform due diligence exams. 

Further, they advise on acquiring oil, gas, and mineral leases and give recommendations for exploration and production companies. 

Independent land consultants are similar to senior landmen. The position requires a high level of experience and excellent people-management skills to secure contracts. 

History of the Landman

The oil and gas industry has used the term landman for decades. It's even possible the term goes all the way back to when the first commercial oil well discovered petroleum in 1859. At this time, the process of acquiring mineral rights began in the U.S. 

However, the University of Oklahoma officially established a degree in oil land management in 1958. This allowed those wanting to be landmen a route to receive a formal education in the subject. 

How to Become a Landman

Most universities in oil and gas-rich regions of the U.S. offer two- and four-year degree programs that cater to the oil and gas industry. Thus, you can find a degree program suitable for becoming a landman.

The minimum requirement to become a landman is to get an associate's degree in land management or a related field, such as:

  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Petroleum engineering

Those who are starting this career path later in life and perhaps don't have a higher degree, or have a degree in a different field, can participate in a land management certification program. Many universities also have this type of program available.

The American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL) also offers certification courses and other resources for landmen. 

Taking certification courses is a common pathway for those who are working in a legal profession but want to transition to becoming a landman.

However, some companies will require you to obtain certifications on top of your degree. Anyway, certifications can help add credibility to your resume and increase your earning potential.

Landman Experience

Although some level of education is required to become a landman, internships and shadowing provide the best hands-on experience to succeed in the role.

The role of a landman is not entry-level, so you'll need some experience in the oil and gas industry before landing a landman position.

Landman's Salary

The average salary for a landman is about $76,000. However, there are positions in Texas that pay much more. Landmen in Texas can easily make over $100,000 yearly because Texas is the largest producing oil state in the U.S.

Senior landmen pull in a much higher salary due to their expertise. The average salary for a senior landman is about $173,000, making it a comfortable position to hold.

Do You Want to Become an Oil and Gas Landman?

Landmen play a critical role in the oil and gas industry. Without them, who would negotiate contracts and drilling leases for oil companies? This all-encompassing position is what forms partnerships between mineral rights owners and oil companies. 

Yet, in your role as a landman, you'll need a CRM solution to bring all your work tasks to one easy-to-manage platform. That's where Halsell comes in. Sign up today to learn more about all the exciting features we can offer you. 

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