An update on my haynesville shale learning endeavor...

I am thoroughly familiar with the internet, but this is my first blog so hang in there as I learn the routine.

I have spent the last two weeks bouncing back and forth from DeSoto Parish, Red River, Caddo, and Bossier. Along with meeting people, I have also tried to gain a little first hand knowledge of the court houses. As I said before, I am not pushy enough to be a salesman, and I have learned this characteristic would come in handy venturing into the Clerk's Office. I had to ask around to learn the 'etiquette' and proper behavior regarding Court House visits.

Landmen, attorneys, title researchers visit the Clerk of Court office to discover or verify the owner(s) of a particular piece of property. As soon as a company files a permit to drill, the race is on the determine what properties fall in the unit (typically 640 acres) at that Section, Township, and Range. The Tax Assessor has a list of properties and names in the Section, and the Clerk's Office has all of the deeds and conveyances for the Parish.

The popularity of the Haynesville Shale has led to increasingly crazy clerk's offices. DeSoto's was absolutely packed with people of all types researching, copying, and making notes on their yellow legal pads.

Rule 1: Don't get in their way.
Being new, and not having a particular goal in mind, I decided to pull a few of my family's deeds and conveyances from the last 50 years to get an idea of how things work. 20 pound books on shelves everywhere, and nearly every available flat surface was being used by someone reading or writing. I'm not an anxious person by nature, but the crowded frenzy will fray the nerves of the calmest.

Rule 2: Don't let anyone even suspect you are looking at their notes.
It's more serious than the SAT. They are all trying to get the one up on each other, and it is every man for him/her self. The idea you would be trying to gain the upper hand by stealing any information they may have is unthinkable.

Rule 3: Don't take it personally if your 'hello, how are you?'s aren't returned cheerfully. I talk to everyone, so it took a little while to understand where they were coming from. It's their job, and more than likely it isn't their favorite part. The courthouse supplies the ammunition they need to be out in the field knocking on landowners doors. Everyone becomes antsy the closer it gets to 4:30, and the mood shifts completely when they step outside of the courthouse... even making plans for dinner/drinks with people they didn't even look at, much less speak to only minutes before.

I have also met with attorneys, service company workers, engineers, and landowners, so I will be updating more regularly. If you have any comments, suggestions, or input please let me know! It's been interesting, and as I learn I am becoming more into the processes involved. Have a great Mother's Day weekend!

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Tags: landman, leasing, research, title

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Comment by Kat Bloomfield on July 20, 2010 at 14:44
Great blog (all of them). It's fantastic that you are using your time so productively and interestingly. I have a sneaking suspicion you will take over something along the way . . .
My first time in a courthouse to find a mere highly focused modicum of documents that a friend (highly experienced and well-versed in O&G and the whole process) of mine needed and needed quickly scared me pantsless. I had no clue what I was doing; it may as well been a foreign country; I got turned around on the way (even with an iphone map up--lost service, so no map); the flurry of "knowing" activity was intimidating; and I had at most 50 minutes within which to figure it out and get what was needed, only to learn that despite teh posted 4:30 closing time, where I needed to be closed at 4. While I thought I did good; apparently, my "boss" didn't. But, more importantly, I realized I hadn't worked on my feet since bartending days in college. They hurt, although it might have been the heels.
Comment by Two Dogs, Pirate on May 30, 2010 at 12:52
Many of the real good lease buyers will hardly ever be seen in the courthouse. Some landmen like the courthouse, while others like the chase, many like the pack or herd, while a few are lone wolves. It is hard for the buzzard to steal from the wolf that is unseen. Buzzards do like to get under the derrick, and will if you let them.
Comment by Sarah on May 29, 2010 at 16:19
It sounds like quite an adventure you're on. :) I couldn't be a land man either, so thank you for sharing insights with us as you learn the ropes yourself. Best of luck to you!!!
Comment by Phillip Briggs on May 16, 2010 at 12:01
I've never worked in Louisiana... but here in Texas, it's been my experience that companies usually like to have all their acreage acquired before filing for drilling permits with the RRC.

IF only everyone respected the 'quiet' rules in Clerks' Offices. When I'm working, my concentration gets broken easily when cell phones go off loudly, or people are jibbering away. I can understand a little chit chat on Friday afternoons, ten minutes before closing...

I'm sure in the bad ol days, landmen would 'borrow {steal}' other landman's work, and snatch away a lease. What gives me a "huh?" moment is when a landman is working out difficult title issues, years after a well has been producing... there's absolutely nothing to steal... all tracts are under lease, and HBP. I worked next to a guy in Panola County for a month, and one day he asked me a question... the problem sounded familiar, and he begrudgingly gave me a tiny piece of his puzzle. Turned out he was working on some of my royalties. The well's been producing since 1980. Asked him why he was continually hiding his notes.... said he didn't want anyone stealing his info... I had to ask him what's the point... Basically he was keeping up his ingrained doctrine of "hiding your work, or someone will steal it", regardless of the fact that his argument was void.
Comment by CajunInTexas on May 13, 2010 at 17:03
I imagine it's very similar to studying... concentration and focus-wise. I'm not knocking landmen or people running title, as many of the people I am closest to were landmen or practiced oil and gas law for much of their life! I couldn't be a landman because I am not a salesman, plus I cannot sit still for any extended period of time. I am trying to learn the ropes, gain insight, and decide what to do with it later on. Right now, I am taking advantage of a semester off and hoping to be able to give family and friends my educated opinion down the road. (free of charge, unlike many haha) I have already crossed paths with companies looking at certain areas in the shale, and I'm learning more of what goes into making the decision. Right now I'm just enjoying the conversation and broadening my horizons!
Comment by Dan Arnold on May 12, 2010 at 14:05
Just a thought about running title in the clerk's office. When a landman goes to work in the books, there is nothing else. It is essential to stay totally tuned in to the task at hand. This why there is so little conversation. It is common for landmen who know each other well not to even realize that they are working in the same courthouse for hours, days or even weeks. all social interaction happens outside the offices.
Comment by adubu on May 11, 2010 at 13:30
cajunin--- are OJT for Landman job, looking for family minerals, or learning the ropes to write a story or what?
Comment by Bobi Carr ("parker") on May 11, 2010 at 6:43
CajuninTexas,
Great post, and how true, even for someone who has travelled from courthouse to courthouse for years. And GoshDarn speaks the truth about Texas. Their patchwork quilt of surveys instead of Section, Township, and Range is difficult to get a handle on. One of the things that I notice about the Clerk's offices now is that most people running title seem to all have ipods plugged in. It's almost like a visual "stop sign".
Comment by GoshDarn on May 10, 2010 at 23:32
Well, since you're a Cajun in TX -- figurin' out the game in the Purchase may turn out to be a cakewalk compared to piecing a puzzle together in Tejas.
Comment by CajunInTexas on May 10, 2010 at 23:18
Thanks! I was there a little over an hour the first day (I got turned around on the way there) and close to three the next visit, split between the clerk's office and the Tax Assessor. Probably frustrated more than a few people as I learned my way around!

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