No Fracking Way

The landmen were the clues

by Chip Northrup on September 21, 2012

Of the shape of things to come 

When a virgin area is going to be exploited by frackers, they send in the landmen to sign up as much land as cheaply as possible. I have had landmen in my family and had three as friends – one drank himself to death, one shot himself, and one is still out there doing what he can to sign up rubes cheap: “Look for the dudes with the beards driving the buggies”. Landmen are the used car salesmen end of the oil and gas business. Chesapeake’s Aubrey McClendon evidently started out as a landman.  Get the picture ?

The way landmen treat landowners is indicative of the way frackers treat everybody that gets in their way.  Ask Joe Heath at Fleased. He tries to help landowners that have been conned or crooked on scammy leases that they can’t get out of.  Sometimes even the frackers try to get out of their own leases.

In New York, the landmen only have to sign up 60% of the area they need for a well spacing. The government, the State of New York, will force the remaining landowners into the well under the worst terms possible, via Compulsory Integration. In this regard the DEC is acting as a landman on behalf of the frackers – one with powers of eminent domain. A landman’s dream come true.

After the landmen come the lobbyists, to re-write the compulsory integration laws. Then the fracking shills, gas holes and charlatans  who try to talk towns out of defending themselves. Then there are the victims. No wonder somebody made a movie about how the process starts – with the landmen.

The producers have shown admirable restraint in portraying the Frack Wars. In order to avoid an X rating, they must have had to cut scenes of Truthland’s Shelly DePue’s bubbling annulus. Some things are just too gross to delve into, even in a movie about fracking.

New York landowners that are looking to lease have taken steps to protect themselves from iffy frackers.  They have formed leasing groups, known as “clusterfracks”. So that their lawyers can put them into details in violation of state and federal securities laws.  And they have hired lobbyist/ lawyers to sue town boards, so that the frackers can spud a well anywhere they like. And have hired lawyers to persuade town boards to turn over the keys to the frackers Just like the landmen wanted. Clever, eh ?

Here’s the trailer . . .


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

TXsharon September 22, 2012 at 12:56 am

Ain’t it the truth,


Chip Northrup September 22, 2012 at 8:38 am

The first fracking representatives into a new area are the landmen. Anybody that was paying attention should have seen what was coming . . .


Otegogas September 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm

The gasser landowners do not trust either the landmen, the gas industry to create a “fair lease”, nor that they will be paid their fair share of production royalties.

But, they act as if the gas industry is being completely honest and truthful when it comes to the real risks to the landowner from leasing his/her land, and with respect to the industry’s real track record of protecting public health and the environment – which anyone can see has been a failure across America’s gaslands.

Dumb is as dumb does…


Chip Northrup September 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm

My point. Even Goodwill Hunting figured that out . . . it all starts with the landmen. Then it goes sideways from there. And the landowners are left with deals like the Tioga Napalm Clusterfrack from their lawyers. Which was even too weird for Hollywood.


Otegogas September 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm

When Susan Arbetter broadcast her show, The Capitol Press Room, live from the NY State Fair Grounds a few weeks back, a woman she interviewed said that here sister is the victim of a forged lease (presumably by the landman that came a visiting…), and she is unable to get out of it.

The lease was purchased by Cheaspeake a few years back and they are aware that it is a forged document, but refuse to releasae her anyway. It may be of interest to note that the CEO of Chesapeake got hs start in the ‘gas biz’ as a landman.


Chip Northrup September 23, 2012 at 8:55 am

Many of the leases signed in New York were “unconscionable” by Texas standards. Meaning no jury would think that anyone in their right mind would actually sign them. So they either must be forgeries or the landowner must be totally incapable of understanding what they signed. And they get tossed out.

Several ways to start in the O&G business – geologist, rig worker, landman. Being a landman is probably the seediest. So it is fitting that’s how Aubrey started – crooking rubes on scammy leases.


Dory Hippauf October 3, 2012 at 4:47 am

Drilling companies are hiring and dispatching brokers to cut deals with local land owners for their mineral rights. The mission of these so-called “land men”: Close the deal quickly. Reuters travelled to Carroll County, Ohio, to find out more about this unregulated aspect of the hydraulic fracturing boom. (Oct. 2, 2012)


Randy Young January 17, 2013 at 6:09 pm

It’s a tough deal. Most of the municipalities want the revenue, but also want to appear ‘strong’ to their constituents. Many of us in the oil and gas industry are working hard to better our image and to become more transparent. Unfortunately that doesn’t stop the bad apples.


Chip Northrup September 23, 2012 at 8:50 am



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