Recently, I was watching an episode of a show that started off with two men approaching a landowner and attempting to purchase his property from him. In their negotiations, they offered him a price much lower than what the land was actually worth, purposefully failing to mention the valuable salt mine under the land (which they knew about, but the landowner didn’t).
It made me think about the AAPL Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. Section 1 of the Code of Ethics specifically states “It shall be the duty of the Land Professional at all times to promote and, in a fair and honest manner, represent the industry to the public at large with the view of establishing and maintaining goodwill between the industry and the public and among industry parties. The Land Professional, in his dealings with landowners, industry parties and others outside the industry, shall conduct himself in a manner consistent with fairness and honesty, such as to maintain the respect of the public.”
The landmen in the show clearly violated this section, as well as Standard of Practice #2, which states “It is the duty of the land professional to protect the members of the public with whom he deals against fraud, misrepresentation, and unethical practices. He shall eliminate any practices which could be damaging to the public or bring discredit to the petroleum, mining or environmental industries”.
At the end of the episode, it was revealed that one of the two landmen was the notorious Judas Iscariot, of Biblical fame. Although the representation of Judas as an unethical landman wasn’t based on an actual historic events, the association wasn’t a positive one for our profession. Thus, it inspired me to make my yearly public service announcement reminding everyone to brush up on their ethics knowledge. If you need some ideas on how to go about doing that, I have provided some resources below.
You can find my presentation from day 2 of the 2019 Appalachian Land Institute here on “Landmen Behaving Badly: What Not To Do”.
You can find my Ethics presentation from the 2021 Appalachian Land Institute here.
Finally, you can read more about the AAPL Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice here.