A landman is a contract professional working in the oil and gas industry for an E&P company or land acquisition company. The two types of landmen are field and in-house. A field landman is an independent contractor whose primary job is to investigate the ownership of the mineral rights and/or prospective land that an E&P company is interested in using for drilling, production, or completions and facilitate its acquisition or leasing by the E&P company. The landman must make it so that the company will own the rights to whatever oil and minerals are extracted from the land being leased or acquired. An in-house landman works for an oil company as an employee.
What are the responsibilities of a landman? A landman in the oil and gas industry may be responsible for a variety of services including negotiating business agreements and acquisitions, researching ownership and titles through county records, managing and adjusting ownership of rights, and leasing. This contractor is proficient in record-keeping, analyzing documents, performing title updates, correcting errors in leases or titles, preparing lease and other agreements, managing land transactions, and facilitating the acquisition of rights.
Typically a field landman is hired to first research titles and mineral ownership of the land the E&P company is interested in using. The company then has the option to lease mineral rights and/or land for drilling or acquire the land and/or mineral rights entirely. If necessary, the landman manages negotiations of surface rights (with the land owner), subsurface rights (with the owner of mineral rights, etc.), royalty percentages, and acquisitions with owners whether individuals or other companies. An in-house landman has additional responsibilities but works for only one company.
What is the required experience or career path for a landman? At least 5 years of experience in the land professional field or oil and gas field and a bachelor’s degree are preferred in a prospective landman. While this job does not typically require an undergraduate or technical degree, it is becoming increasingly common for landmen to have one. Some universities even offer a petroleum land management degree. It is also possible to work one’s way up from a lower position such as a title analyst, leasing agent, land tech, or as an associate landman. Assisting another landman in a courthouse as a volunteer is another way to gain entrance into the profession. Someone without a degree or experience can be trained to be a landman. Finally, acquiring a certification from the AAPL (American Association of Petroleum Landmen) is highly recommended, if not required. Certifications include RL, RPL, and CPL, in order of increasing experience levels.
Where does a landman work? A landman travels frequently to meet with clients and land, rights, and title owners. Most of their work, however, is done from an office when they are not traveling or visiting local courthouses and county records offices.
What is a landman's schedule? A landman typically works 40 hours a week, Monday-Friday. Hours vary when traveling. As an independent contractor, however, a landman usually sets their own hours. An in-house landman will have a more structured schedule.
Who does a landman report to? A landman working for an exploration company reports to his point of contact within the company, but the landman has no supervisor.
How much does a landman make? A landman's day rate typically varies between $200 and $600 depending on experience, location, certification, degrees, supply, and specialties. On an annual basic, a starting landman may earn closer to $75,000 per year while someone with over 5 years of experience earns around $95,000 per year. After this, pay depends heavily on education and experience. It is not uncommon for landmen to earn over $100,000 per year, especially with a law degree.