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Assembling the Land Position

Don E. Schroeder, Oil & Gas Agreements: The Exploration Phase (2004)

A basic assumption underlying this paper is that a company has no significant amount of acreage in a new natural gas play area and needs a relatively large acreage position in order to make its project economically feasible. Therefore, the main focus will be on the methods of acquiring an interest in a relatively large amount of contiguous acreage. This would be representative of the “unconventional” natural gas play - which is becoming more and more conventional, especially in the Rocky Mountain region.

Since a predominant amount of land in the Rockies is owned and/or administered by the federal government, more focus will be placed on federal acreage issues in this paper.


Improvements in well completion techniques and increased gas prices have vastly lowered the risk and improved the economics of plays that were previously uneconomic or marginally economic. Most of these are tight-reservoir gas plays and coalbed methane plays, which are often referred to as “unconventional” plays. They tend to cover broad geographic areas and hence allow for, and sometimes necessitate, the accumulation of a significant amount of leasehold acreage. As more plays have become economic, or at least more alluring, more areas have been experiencing active leasing - not only frontier areas, but also mature productive areas as well, with new targets. A comp