Either you are … or you aren’t … (re-post from Landman Magazine)

by: Duston Erwin at 3/21/2013 9:43:47 AM | Viewed 2774 times.

Officer Forum


Either you are … or you aren’t …


By Owen M. “Monty” Barnhill, CPL

AAPL 2nd Vice President




What do I mean by the title of this article? It’s simple: Either you, as a landman, are a recognized professional landman or you are not — period!


The American Association of Professional Landmen is the only national land-oriented organization whose mission is to promote the highest standards of performance thereby encouraging sound stewardship of energy, land and mineral resources through professional development and services to its members and thereby advancing and enforcing our guiding principles and ideals mandated via our public trust. In other words, AAPL is the only organization that can recognize landmen as professional landmen.


The standards governing the actions of AAPL members go beyond ordinary trading — they impose a grave social responsibility and duty to which each AAPL member must dedicate himself or herself. AAPL members must adhere to the principles and guidelines as established by, through and under AAPL’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. AAPL member land professionals are recognized as to competency, fairness, integrity and moral conduct.


Verification of AAPL’s standing in the oil and gas industry as the pre-eminent land-based organization is further verified by the fact that AAPL is regularly called upon to provide background on energy issues to the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, special government committees, state/province governing bodies throughout the United States and other various federal agencies as well as assorted mineral law foundations. AAPL is a governing member of numerous law foundations (i.e., Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Energy and Mineral Law Foundation, the LSU Mineral Law Foundation). No other land-related organization holds such recognized status.


In addition, AAPL is the only recognized international/national professional association of landmen. AAPL has the duty, right and obligation, via our mission statement, to classify landmen as professionals. What does this mean? A landman can only be recognized as a professional landman by, through and under membership in AAPL. Simply referring to one’s self as a professional landman is self-anointing, self-serving and misleading. By virtue of our membership in AAPL, our members can, without reservation, refer to themselves as professional landmen. Those individuals who lack the credentials, commitment and sense of worth to join AAPL exhibit — in my opinion — a basic lack of commitment to the energy/land discipline as well as to our industry as a whole.


As members of AAPL, we have the inherent obligation to promote the highest degree of professionalism possible within our discipline, and that requires that individuals who practice landwork meet certain standards of professionalism: education, continuing education, testing, adhering to a code of ethics and supporting a modem of enforcement of the code of ethics. This can only be done by, through and under AAPL by AAPL members. As a part of AAPL’s public trust, it is our duty to ensure maximization of membership.


Since its inception, AAPL has made a concerted effort to attract and maintain qualified members. Those of you reading this article are, for the most part, members — there are approximately 16,000 of us. However, the thought process behind this article is that AAPL members will use it to recruit additional qualified members to AAPL.


So, how about those individuals practicing landwork who are not AAPL members? They should be, but history has shown us that, in some endeavors, noncompliant individuals need some encouragement. Our industry is comprised of numerous entities that require parties (employees, independent contractors, etc.) with whom they associate to be members of AAPL. All entities should adopt this approach. Those of you who require the services of independent contractors (brokers, subbrokers, etc.) owe it to yourself, your company, your clients, our energy/land discipline and our industry to require that these individuals be active members of AAPL in good standing. As to your employees, entities within our discipline and industry have numerous policies in place regarding who they hire/employee; hence, simply mandate that land individuals you employee be AAPL members, in good standing. If people want to work, they will comply and through their membership will be better for it as will our discipline and industry.


When in contact with a non-AAPL member practicing landwork and you inquire as to why he/she is not an AAPL member, you probably get the standard excuses:


·      “AAPL has nothing to offer me as benefits” (which indicates an ignorance of what AAPL offers); or,

·      AAPL “just is not for me” (which is another way of saying they don’t have the self-worth or professional conviction to contribute to an organization that has supported the discipline that earns them a living).


Discuss with and educate these individuals as to some of the advantages of AAPL membership:


·      It is cost effective — only $100 per year. Think of it this way: A soda costs $1.29 (lasts about an hour), so if you have one soda a day for a year, you have spent $470.85. If you have one large candy bar a day (lasts about two to three minutes) for a year at a cost of $0.85 each, you have spent $310.25. For those who have an alcoholic beverage (lasts about 45 minutes) at a restaurant twice a month at an average cost of $12 a drink, you have just spent $288. If you have one good cigar (lasts about one to one-and-a-half hours) once a week at a cost of approximately $18 to $25 per cigar, you have just spent $1,118.


·      AAPL is the only recognized national professional association of landmen.


·      Our members recognize and embrace an industry standard code of ethics and industry recognized standards of practice. Our professionalism in connection with this mandate is universally recognized in each and every discipline within the oil and gas industry.


·      The oil and gas industry recognizes that an AAPL member has as his/her mandated mission statement to provide, without exception, a level of competent service in keeping with our standards of practice in fields of endeavor that a land professional customarily engages. This is not recognized just by our fellow members but by others within our industry, including geologists, geophysicists, attorneys, independent operators and, hopefully, the general public.


·      As to acknowledgment of our professionalism among the general public, I would point to the tremendous effects and accomplishments of AAPL’s Marketing Committee, which in its short history has taken dramatic measures to confront, inform and communicate with the general public as to the differentiation between an AAPL member professional landman versus a non-AAPL member individual with no professional affiliation calling himself or herself a landman. This committee is involved in everything ranging from our new Membership Mark to billboard advertising to AAPL representatives being interviewed by the media regarding AAPL’s position on current industry issues, all of which are specific as to the difference in goals, methodology, actions, accountability and bearing of an AAPL member professional landman versus someone simply calling himself or herself a landman — and there is a huge difference.


·      AAPL publishes nationally acclaimed magazines (you are reading one right now) — The Landman as well as the Landman 2. AAPL publishes a comprehensive directory (both printed and electronic) and educational textbooks as well as provides numerous other advantages of membership as related via our website.


·      On behalf of not only landman but the industry as a whole, AAPL has led efforts to protect landmen’s right to practice landwork — efforts that not only protected AAPL members, but ALL landman, — including the independent contractor issues relating to landmen in addition to concerted steps to protect landmen rights as to tax issues.


·      AAPL offers approximately 80 continuing educational events each year. Continuing education makes for even better landmen, which improves our discipline, protects the general public and adds to the strength and viability of our industry. Our education events range from specific field landmen events to the professional standards events for RPLs and CPLs in the format of institutes, seminars, home study courses, online courses and live webcasting. So the excuse that someone “doesn’t have the time” (which is different from “I won’t allot the time”) is neutralized.


·      NAPE — world class without exception and ever expanding with time.


·      Through AAPL membership, our members have the opportunity to utilize numerous cost-effective insurance packages/policies.


·      Along with NAPE, AAPL’s Annual Meeting and Conference provides a wonderful opportunity to socialize, network and take advantage of additional educational opportunities.


·      Forms issued by AAPL (Model Form 610 JOA, Land Services Contract, etc.) are readily available and accepted throughout our industry.


In just the past 12 years, our membership increased approximately 220 percent.   Obviously our strength is in our membership and has been for almost 60 years. In fact, AAPL is recognizing in The Landman those companies that employ and/or contract specifically and only with AAPL members. If your company falls into this category (I stipulated ways to accomplish this in a previous paragraph) — as should all companies — please advise AAPL so that your well-deserved recognition can be published.


AAPL has concerted efforts to not only maintain our current members, but also — for the betterment of all landman, our discipline and our industry — continue to enhance and increase our membership. This can be accomplished primarily through two modems:


1.    Our current members requiring that those within our discipline with whom they work or come into contact are members of AAPL.


2.    The general public is made aware of the stark differentiation of an AAPL member professional landman versus others who simply call themselves landmen. The general public deserves to be the beneficiary of AAPL’s public trust.


I want to thank each AAPL member for his/her membership in AAPL. Through your membership, and endorsement of all that such membership represents to include signifying your recognition as to the importance of professionalism, you are making a very positive contribution to a strong energy/land management discipline and thereby contributing to strengthen our oil gas industry, which is a vital ingredient to maintaining a strong national defense.





Monty Barnhill Article


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