I did my best to post everyday for an entire month. Sure, there were days (mostly weekends) that I missed here and there, but overall I posted on 28 out of 31 days in August. That accounts for almost 20% of all the posts on LandmanLife, which is pretty incredible. Over the past 14 years I have migrated the site from over a handful of different hosting providers, and content was lost along the way, but I have done my best to keep the archive alive.
Why Start Now?
When I started posting every day in August, it wasn’t actually a conscious decision that I made. I just…started doing it. Then I noticed I’d hit a 7 day streak and felt like I should try to continue it. The early posts didn’t have much of a theme, I was just talking about whatever was on my mind that day. About halfway through the month I kind of fell into a groove. Most of those posts are highlighting problems with the landman profession and our place in the overall oil and gas industry.
Those problems and rants are just my own frustrations. I’ve gotten a lot of support and feedback from other landmen that feel like they are in a similar position. Then there have been some haters that pop up, trying to defend the status quo. I’m not concerned by that and there has always been push back when I start talking about how AAPL fails to do anything meaningful for landmen. The people that most ardently defend AAPL are also some of the worst offenders.
A System That Punishes Dissent
If you create a system that does not allow criticism (whether it is valid or not), all you are going to do is turn it into an echo chamber. There seems to be no interest in honest debate about the merits or…lack thereof for the existence of AAPL. We all just go with the flow. People are scared to speak up about problems they see because dissent means you are going to be cast out. Shunned. Maybe lose a job, or not get a job in the future. That shouldn’t be the case. The system is broken.
Regardless of whether you are reading this because you agree with some of my sentiments or because you absolutely hate what I’m saying, I’d still like to hear from you. We have profiles on most social media, I’ve given people a way to contact us on this site, and I’m constantly linking this page to my actual business. Plenty of ways to reach out. I’ve had a couple of anonymous submissions over the years, more often than not it’s somebody that reaches out and tells me they have something to say but don’t want it in their name. That’s fine. I’m pretty good at keeping secrets and love to share different viewpoints. Reach out. Get involved. Speak up.
Here’s a recap of the month of August if you want to catch up:
One of the core concepts that I keep circling back to when I contemplate the meaning of The Roadtrip to Nowhere is the importance of appreciating the journey rather than fixating on the destination. As someone who’s living paycheck to paycheck, constantly moving from one small town to another, it’s easy for things to become an indistinct blur. A blurry haze, intensified by alcohol, engulfs us from Monday through Sunday.
When I first journeyed to Dubois, Pennsylvania (pronounced doo-boys, not doob-wah), to start working as a landman, I stopped at many random places on the way. I didn’t know what I was going to be doing when I got to Dubois, but I had a basic understanding of title work and figured…how hard could it be? Looking back at my mid-twenties, I always immediately think, “damn, I should’ve done more!”
The rays of sunlight begin peaking over the eastern horizon, casting shadows across the highway on a still summer morning. Off to his left he can see the dew and low lying fog in the pastures between the hills. He’s tried to capture those moments on camera, but they’re best experienced first hand. Even though he’s done this same drive thousands of times, watching the sun begin to rise over south Texas still brings a smile to his face.
“Until you hit the ground” — that’s a lyric from a Chris Stapleton song that has resonated with me for a long time. It captures the experience of riding the high, only to come crashing down. Life comes in waves, and I’ve definitely experienced the near euphoric highs followed by the lows a couple of times in my life and career.
You can have both, but there’s a difference between the two. Friendships can lead to clients, but that can also end up ruining your friendship if things go to shit. Clients can lead to friendships, but again…you can fuck up a client relationship if you do something wrong and you’re being perceived as a friend. It’s literally the reason people say not to mix friends and money.
We’re (almost) a week into August, and I’ve posted something every day this month. This morning I started thinking about…what am I going to say today? If I’m trying to post each day for an entire month…am I going to run out of things to day? How do I start finding the words?
That was the buzzword this weekend, “realignment.” As a Baylor grad, it was exciting to see the *New Big 12* become the *Big 16*. It was also tragic to see how fast the cards fell in the Pac 12. Until I started reading some of the ESPN coverage about it, I did not realize just how old the Pac 12 was. Yes, the conference was not the same throughout its history, but still…that’s crazy it’s lasted so long.
We’ve all gotten caught up in the never ending stream of notifications, texts, emails, phonecalls, DMs, likes, and comments. Smartphones trigger a dopamine loop that gets you hooked and constantly checking your phone, smartwatch, computer…etc. It’s a difficult cycle to break, and although it’s widely accepted that these behaviors are detrimental to our health and well being…here we all are, still doing it.
A couple of weeks ago I was talking with some other landbros about the differences between some of the large PE shops. Here’s a disclaimer: this post, and pretty much everything I do, comes through the lens of being a landman. Things might be drastically different if you’re a geologist or an engineer, or…just a corporate windbag. Lots of anecdotal evidence abounds.
This summer, for no reason other than a reversion to old habits, I’ve started smoking cigars again. That’s led to to getting a new humidor, buying more cigars than I need, and starting to find new spirits to pair with my new hobby. While a fine cigar can be enjoyed with a couple ice cold Miller Lites, it’s a whole different experience when you have a good bourbon, tequila, or rum to sip on. Problem is…Texas is fucking hotter than hell right now. I’m doing my best to deal with the heat but it’s a serious deterrent to spending time outside.
I failed. My goal of posting every day in August went to shit over the weekend. We had friends down to the ranch, and…yeah, shit happens. I wasn’t too drunk, the time just seemed to get away from me. I looked at one point Saturday night and it was…already Sunday morning. Oops. Shit. Fuck. Whatever. I’m doing this for myself, so the only person that I really failed was…myself.
A couple of people have sent me a tweet from some guy in Alberta with his “OnlyRigs” logo. This happens a lot, and there’s nothing that I can or will do about it. I think my design was more true to form and looks more legit than his, but he was lazy about it and probably doesn’t care. Most people won’t.
When I was younger, I didn’t care if it took me 2 hours for a 90 minute drive. Maybe I stopped to get gas and ice down a couple of beers for later, then grabbed a burger at the spot next door. Sometimes I’d roll off the main road and just…explore for awhile.
I don’t remember exactly when it was that I got my first taste of Electric Jellyfish, or EJ as we refer to it these days, but it was one of those perception altering moments where you instantly reevaluate all of your previous beer drinking decisions and know that they were wrong.
When the Shale Boom started, most landmen were required to join AAPL so brokers could say “all our contractors adhere to the ethical standards set forth by AAPL.” It was a marketing gimick. Then we were all required to have our own LLCs. That was a liability gimick. We’re still doing those things but nobody really knows why. It’s 2023.
It’s August 19, 2023 and during this month alone (so far), I’ve posted 15 times (this post will make it 16). Since the last time I rebooted the site, which was sometime in early 2019, I have posted/re-posted 110 total posts. That means this month alone has accounted for over 13% of the total posts. Looking at it like that…makes me feel like that’s a lot.
The year is 2030, and landmen have gone extinct. They hit a career dead end. Fossil fuels are being rejected all over the world, replaced and displaced by less efficient and more expensive “renewable” or “greener” energy. After decades of being the oil and gas industry’s punching bags, there have been no new landmen born since 2016.
This is a story about how landmen are made.
I have been in the ‘game’ since the beginning of 2015 and even though I am quickly approaching my tenth year in the industry, I still feel like a rookie.
I got my start as a bright-eyed Energy Management student at the University of Tulsa back in the fall of 2010, watching the shale boom and hearing stories about the amazing door prizes that a Landman could win at any given clay shoot or golf tournament (You get a gun! You get a gun! You get two guns!). I won no guns.
The Shale Boom of the early 2010s created an exorbitant demand for landmen, which resulted in more landmen, higher day rates, and far more work than ever before. However, when the Boom suddenly ended, and the market crashed back to reality, many of these so-called “warm bodies” simply washed out of the industry.
It’s taken me well over a decade to find my voice here. A majority of that time I was voicing my dissent under the veil of secrecy. Screaming into the void, as I used to call it. Once I realized that people had started paying attention, I had to be more…discrete with my musings. Keep your head down, do your work, don’t speak up.
The other day when I was contemplating the idea of a broken system I had the random thought that…the system works for the prior generation. They set it up. We’re just stuck with it.
When you can’t even speak honestly amongst your friends, or let them know who you’re meeting with, we have a fucking problem.
I’ve spent the past couple of days posting about how the landman and broker system is broken. If you haven’t read any of those rants, it’s probably a good place to start. This post below was sent to us this morning, I have not altered any of it. The Disillusioned are everywhere.
Taking a break from the doom and gloom to cheer everyone up with a delightful Cuba Libre. “and a Bottle of Rum” by Wayne Curtis is a well narrated history of rum and the New World which it helped found. Looking at history through the context of the first truly American spirit gives new context to many well known historical events.
Brokers demand loyalty from the landmen that work for them. “You give us 8 hours in the day.” They will nickel and dime for how much that is worth and pocket the difference. Some brokers will turn their landmen into the AAPL for “ethics violations” if they find out you are doing work for anyone else, even if it’s not at the same time or in the same areas.
Can you think of a more quintessential American career than being a landman? We make a living from our wit, intellect, and our ability to adapt to the ever changing landscape of the oil and gas industry. Landmen used to be the one man do it all character at the center of great oil discoveries, but as the industry has grown so too has the landman profession.