Remember when Landmen would get together to network? Or unabashedly sit face to face with a landowner, competitor, or attorney and shake hands? Or when Landmen went to the courthouse to run title without masks? The new norm has frustrated customs of the past. Sure we’ve all made adjustments and sacrifices but was it all for not? Humans have been dealing with coronaviruses for a long time and this one is no different – we will eventually fend this virus off and the headlines will disappear. So what does this mean for the modern day Landman and how do we adapt and survive?
The Reset Button
The COVID-19 coupled with Saudi/Russia price war effected a reset in the domestic oil and gas industry. The double black swan event expedited a much needed reckoning in our industry. Piles of debt coming to roost coupled with long term anemic oil and natural gas prices forced layoffs and rampant distress among the industry. As of Q2 2020, Haynes and Boone reported 18 bankruptcies in Q2 alone; the most bankruptcies since Q2 2016.
While the toilet is still flushing and many companies continue to circle the drain, the world still needs Landmen. We are the essential non-essentials. The necessary evil. I might sound a bit cynical but that’s my nature. But seriously, no lease, no grease. Landmen are the conduit of an efficient and cost effective oil and gas company. Quality Independent Landmen are tough to come by but we in-house cats rely on them to negotiate all types of agreements, conduct due diligence, facilitate projects with regulatory bodies, and keep a pulse on the going-ons in the field. And believe it or not, we also exist offshore.
What is “the new normal?”
COVID-19 is here and is not going away until at least November. The issue is undeniably political but that is not the purpose of this post. The purpose is to figure out what the go forward looks like for the Landmen post reset. Person to person engagement is a necessity. Courthouse visits and encounters with humans are necessary. In person networking functions are essential. With that said, we push along with common sense. If we need to carry a bottle of sanitizer and wear a mask to get ink, we do it. We adapt as necessary but the hope is that the inconveniences essentially go away as COVID-19 fades out of our memory. So we push on. I part with a Churchill quote: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”