My first gohaynesvilleshale.com blog:
Haynesville asked me to do a blog every other week here on gohaynesvilleshale.com. I decided my first entry should be a little bit of history about how I got involved in all of this so here goes.
I have 3.5 acres in a Desoto Parish neighborhood. We were one of the first families to move into our subdivision. After my divorce I chose to stay here with my boys because it is such a peaceful area filled with good hardworking families. One of those families bought the worst lot in our neighborhood a few years ago. This family worked hard to clear the lot and make it inhabitable. After much work they moved a home onto the property.
One week in April of 2008 land men were canvassing our neighborhood. I happened to be home sick. The land man stopped by my home and offered me $1,500.00 per acre to lease my minerals. Of course, I said no. The next day my neighbor next door told me the hard working family I mentioned above signed a lease for $350.00 per acre the same day I was offered $1,500.00 per acre the local beauty shop owner called me and said another person on another street received $4,500.00 per acre. All of these offers were given by the same company on the same day.
The neighbor who signed for $350.00 per acre was Hispanic American who lives in a trailer and does not speak English well enough to really understand the details of what he was signing. I am a single mother, nurse and have a small but comfortable wooden home on my little parcel of paradise. The person offered $4,500.00 per acre has more land than me. This made me feel things were being done based on socio-economic lines. That made me angry. Now, my Mama always said I am like a cross between a pit bull and a Chihuahua when I get angry and she is right!
I began to research oil and gas leasing, environmental impact, land owner rights, Louisiana oil and gas law, department of conservation regulations, etc. I also contacted channel 3, 6, and 12 news via email as well as the Shreveport times and reserved a room at the local library to have a meeting. On April 26, 2008 I had my first oil and gas meeting. I expected to get 50 neighbors there to discuss what was happening in our area. 400 people showed up! We had to move the meeting to the park because the library was not large enough to hold the crowd. Vickie Wellborn from the Times was there and did a great article in the paper the following Sunday and Monday. I interviewed with Jim Roberts of channel 3 and they broke the story on TV. Later channel 12 came out and interviewed me during one of my “meetings on the front lawn” I began having in my neighborhood.
The magnitude of the turn out at my first meeting convinced me there was a serious need to educate land owners. I started seeking a larger venue in which to have meetings. I also continued to research oil and gas drilling, mineral leasing, regulations and laws related to oil and gas, law suits, companies involved in oil and gas drilling, etc. I met with people from various aspects of the industry as well as attorneys, etc.
I could not find a venue large enough that I could afford so I was getting frustrated when I read that Mayor Cedric Glover of Shreveport had traveled to Fort Worth to learn about the Barnet Shale and how the cities impacted by urban drilling had handled things. I decided to take a chance and email him for help. Imagine my surprise when Mayor Glover called me back personally. He was very interested in working together to put forth a public forum. Within 2 weeks of that first phone call we were preparing to have the Shreveport public forums. We had a turn out of over 1300 people for the June 12, 2008 forum and I think it was a little more at the June 21, 2008 meeting. Needless to say I was very excited to see people becoming educated.
Once the forums were done I turned my attention back to my little corner of the world. I got a map of my section and put out flyers, went door to door, etc. in order to reach people who were not yet leased. We began having meetings in my living room. When we outgrew my living room we moved to my yard. As time went by we added people form other surrounding sections to our group. We now have ~500 acres in our group.
I continue to receive many requests for help and I have noticed the plethora of people/companies suddenly cropping up to represent people in negotiating mineral leases. I became concerned about these businesses because they were charging 4%-5% of peoples sign on bonuses and some were charging parts of their royalties as well. I did not think these companies were looking beyond the dollar signs and ensuring clauses to protect the land and land owners nor are they educating land owners so I have opened a consulting firm. I still have my day job and my two boys to care for but I give talks to neighborhood groups so they will be a little more informed (for free, everyone deserves to have a starting point of knowledge!), I continue to negotiate for our group and I am starting to have some paying clients. Of course, I continue to research and take every opportunity in the media to help educate land owners.
I do not think the oil and gas companies are evil. I do think they are smart business people who want to maximize profits. We, the land owners have been entering into these leases in much too frivolous a manner up to this point. It is a business deal folks, we need to treat it as such…hmm, good topic for the next blog! Until next time, happy shaling folks! Kassi205