I am an unleased mineral interest owner. I can't help but notice the derisive comments slung my way and towards others like me. Seems industry types hurl slurs at us, particularly when business is slow, i.e., when natural gas prices tumble a bit. Yeah, no one likes them; at least, not those of us who stand to profit immensely from higher prices. In any event, back to the point. Exemplary of the childish name-calling include "parasites, goats, and freeloaders." Hmmm. Bullying is distasteful not only in school yards, but also when it arises in my adult world. It assails my sensibilities, as a hard-working landowner.
Bullying always masks what's really going on. Insecurity. On the playground, that large seemingly over-indulged fat kid who always found someone smaller to pick on seemed tough; seemed to have it all together. BUt we always learned; he did not. An overbearing father or mother. But always the child of someone whom he desperately wanted to impress, but never ever could. Usually the product of a very unhappy marriage. Sometimes divorce. Often alcoholism, whether in the open or hidden in a proverbial brown paper bag, resulted in a very unhappy childhood and produced a miserable bully of a child. There's an extraordinary book on bullies. When I remember the name, I'll post it. But, it is a scientific, psychological look into the childhood of the bullies. Put simply, it ain't pretty.
Lesson number one from the playground bully is this: never ever explain anything to a bully; never justify yourself. Waste of time. You're not dealing with a secure rational grown-up. You're dealing with an insecure child who makes no sense and is incapable of rational thought.
Bullies get older; they never grow up. They're everywhere in our adult lives. And, now, it seems, many of them are in the industry; often as middle men or hanging onto the fringes of the boy's club. But, just as they never ever saw the gleam of pride in their father's eyes; they really aren't "in" the club. They tag along. Starting out as not much more than errand boys, doing dirtier and dirtier deeds over time for their "masters," they may acquire some minor working interests. They may amass a minor leasehold area, not after diligent research, geology and thought; but simply upon direction to do so. And, they do. And, are paid with a minor working interest. They grovel at their masters' feet. And lash out at everyone else.
The simple response to a bully is to ignore him. Don't feed the troubled insecurities of the bully who just wants attention, even if negative. The same that worked on the playground; works in business, as well. In this scenario, the bully is not a co-worker or a boss. So, you don't have to finesse things to keep your life happy. It's simple. You just don't deal with a bully. You don't have to. And, you never should.
E&P is a business. Being unleased is a business decision. It has nothing to do with the hysterical whinings and accusations bantered about by the bullies. My property has been force pooled-- I cannot drill my own well; that right has been taken from me with the blessing of the Office of Conservation. So, when the bully says: go drill your own well, my response is two-fold. No thanks. I'm not a driller and in any event, I can't. When the bully says I'm freeloading or calls me some other name: my response is simple: That's nice; it's just business.
The fact of the matter is I am not a parasite or a freeloader. My land will pay its fair share of the costs of production plus a "supervision fee" to the operator. The fact of the matter is I was not offered a fair lease deal. It is my choice to lease or not to lease. That I make a choice either way does not render me a parasite or any other guttural term. That the operator made its choice to force pool my land is his choice. The office of Conservation is the operator's whipping boy: operator wants unit, operator gets it.
The nature of the business has changed in this particular play, the Haynesville Shale. The value of natural gas that this play holds is enormous. I know it. The bully knows it. The operator knows it. It would be an act of utter irresponsibility to my family, present and future, to let the bully browbeat me through half-truths and insults, to enter into a lease that simply is not fair in light of facts.
So, in the end; remember your playground lessons: the Bully is insecure; he is not an adult. This is business. It has nothing to do with biological and animal world references. The response is always: it's just business. Then, move along. Find an adult to do business with.