5 questions with Charles Stanford
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Friday, August 03, 2012
8/03/12 at 4:59 AM
Charles Stanford, who spent much of his career with Tulsa oil and gas companies, recently was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Association of Professional Landmen during its annual meeting in San Francisco. The Holdenville native's 50-year career started with Standard Oil Co. of California in 1961. He also worked for Amerada, Calvert Exploration and Samson Resource Co. of Tulsa, in addition to performing executive work with the AAPL.
1: What is the basic job description for a petroleum land management employee?
We see that oil and gas leases are purchased for the company's benefit within the boundaries of the geological/geophysical prospect. The landman advises management of the funds needed to purchase the leases through his broker to prepare the prospect for drilling.
The landman then proceeds to put the prospect together by hiring brokers to do the title work and purchase all of the leases that can be bought for the money authorized by management. Then it is his job to have a title opinion written.
When all of this - and often many other details - are addressed, the landman can then advise his drilling department that operations can proceed.
2. The petroleum landman profession had some bumpy times with plenty of people losing their jobs, particularly in the 1980s. How did you manage to hold on, and what's the secret to longevity in PLM?
In fact, I did lose my job as land manager at Samson in 1983 but immediately went back to work for Amerada Hess in Houston in a managerial job that quickly led to being named manager of onshore land. In the mid-90s, I and everyone 55 or older in the Exploration and Production Division were required to take early retirement. At that time, my family and I returned to Tulsa.
The reason I and other older experienced landmen have been continually able to work is because of our experience and our honest work ethic.
3: You worked for Samson Resources and the Schusterman family here in Tulsa. How did you feel about their decision last year to sell the company to New York equity firm KKR & Co.?
As one of the first employees of Samson, I started their land department in 1974 and have many fond memories of my time there. The decision to sell Samson was, of course, a family decision which I'm sure they felt was the best for the family and the employees.
Samson has been a viable, local company that has contributed much to the oil and gas industry in not only Oklahoma but also in other states, and it has been a big contributor to local civic and charitable causes. For sake of the employees and the community, I hope KKR lives up to their commitment to keep the company located in Tulsa.
4: How complicated is the job now that horizontal drilling might drain beneath a multitude of properties with different owners?
The principles of land work are the same, yet more complicated in several respects.
With each passing generation, the minerals become more split between heirs of previous owners. This creates more title problems and, in the long run, more leases have to be obtained and/or more mineral owners force-pooled to put the drilling units together in order to comply with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's spacing regulations.
In addition, the leases in a spacing unit now seem to be owned by more companies as working interest owners than in the past. This can cause more problems for operators in their dealings to finalize the agreement needed in getting the well ready to drill.
With horizontal drilling, the title is extremely complex because both the minerals and the working interests are owned differently in different geological formations. These situations can cause big headaches for both the title attorney and the landman.
5: Some graduates with law degrees are moving into the PLM profession. So what's more important, understanding titles and deeds or being able to talk to landowners?
The landmen that I've known who have law degrees consider themselves practicing landmen. Early in my career, I asked my land manager - who had a law degree - if my getting a law degree would help my career. He indicated that it would only help if I wanted to be a lawyer, not a landman.
Original Print Headline: Learning to roll with the changes
CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World