There is a new Landman in the Wind

Written by David Melton

Wind Energy

Wind Energy or power is nothing new, but with the developments regarding the global need for alternative clean over the past decade, renewable energy is growing.  As a result, the market has been taking on new life, growth, and future importance in an attempt to address ‘global warming’. 

Currently, wind energy power supplies only a small fraction of the electricity needed in the United States.  But with recent improvements in technology, according to the American Wind Energy Association, 20% or greater of our electricity is estimated to come from Wind Energy by as early as 2020.  Growth is just now picking up steam for Wind Energy to be the next cash crop.   

The power of wind and solar energy is enormous, and according to the American Wind Energy Association.  Wind Energy could produce over ten billion kilowatts annually – three times the amount of power the United States is used to using in the past decade.  

Future of the Energy Industry

As of 2020, we are witnessing a historic moment for oil and for the energy industry as the world moves toward a clean energy transition that has been catalyzed considerably by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Even before the novel coronavirus disrupted the global economy and international industries and supply chains, there was already a lot of talk about peak oil coming up around the bend and renewable energies such as solar and wind power have been getting cheaper and more efficient by the year, outgrowing subsidies and becoming competitive with some fossil fuels.

COVID-19 has only fast-tracked this energy transition as world leaders rush to create green stimulus packages for post-pandemic economic recovery at the urging of such experts as the World Economic Forum, which has advocated for a “new energy order” and a ”great reset.”  In fact, the tide has turned on emissions-heavy fossil fuels to the extent that Big Oil’s most profitable industry is no longer oil, and in Europe supermajor oil companies are looking to reinvest and rebrand themselves as “Big Energy.” 

“Over the past decade, the oil companies, whose profits were mostly derived from pumping crude out of the oil fields they discovered, transformed themselves into ‘oil and gas’ companies.” “Now they are evolving once again to become ‘energy’ companies.  Shell’s latest report shows that almost half of its production was natural gas, compared with less than 40 percent in 2005.” - oil strategist Julian Lee wrote for Bloomberg Opinion in August 2020.  Recent predictions have been made by the IEA that “Oil and Gas sectors will bear the brunt of this declining oil demand, with 2040 production cuts by nearly 50% when calculated by present value.”

Today, this trend is continuing outside of Europe and across the globe as we witness some of the world’s biggest oil companies look to diversify in order to stay relevant and in the black. 

The Wind Energy Industry has some similar, but also very different issues from the Oil and Gas Industry that, as a Landman, you must know if you plan to work in this field.  Both require state, local, and federal compliance, leases to build and operate the production facilities, and research prior to the development of the project. 

Importance of the Landman

There’s an old saying, “No well is drilled, bought or sold without a Landman being involved.”  The same goes for a ‘wind farm’ or ‘solar farm’.   A Landman’s job is always on the move and expanding to fit the latest technology, such as ‘horizontal drilling’ versus ‘vertical drilling’ projects and now ‘wind and solar energy.’  As horizontal drilling became more and more the ‘norm’ the oil and gas lease and Joint Operating Agreement changed to fit issues surrounding that type of drilling operation.  So, at the end of the day, Petroleum Landmen had to obtain education on such things as “Production Sharing Agreements”, “Offset land use Agreements”,  and the 2015 Joint Operating Agreement.  

If a Petroleum Landman is skilled in mineral title, Oil and Gas Leases, and/or right-of-way acquisition, he or she should have little trouble in adapting to the tasks surrounding the Wind Energy Industry and working with companies who are actively developing wind projects.

In addition, when you add in the fall of the Oil & Gas Industry in April of 2020, many Petroleum Landmen are finding themselves out of work and looking to make the transition into something where they can still utilize their skills.  Historically, the Right-of-Way Industry has been one such place where many Independent Petroleum Landmen have moved to.  If Petroleum Landmen have had a history in dealing with Oil and Gas Lease negotiations, the Right-of-Way Industry is a good fit for them as well.

Now, when you combine negotiating Wind and Solar Leases along with the associated Right-of-Way agreements to the growing Wind and Solar market, for the far foreseeable future the Alternative Energy Industry should experience a short fall of qualified Landmen to fill these roles and training is vital to help educate these transitioning Landmen.  As of right now, the American Wind Energy Association does not offer such training to and/or for Landmen.


David Melton

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