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  Brought to you by Professional Surveyor Magazine                                                                  August 16, 2011—No. 47

Emerging Market Opportunities in Oil and Gas Development
Increasing county-level regulations can mean opportunities for land surveyors

Thanks to the recent uptick in gas prices, I am observing an increase in oil and gas development in my part of eastern Colorado. This trend is already providing more opportunities for local surveyors. I’m also seeing a trend that could further multiply these opportunities: This development is reaching into populated areas that have not yet experienced such activity, which has led local counties to add another layer of regulation to oil and gas development, going beyond state regulations.

What this means is more site improvement plans, as-builts, and other compliance surveys and exhibits that need to be generated by our industry. More deliverables equals more billable hours!

Compliance deliverables: I work as a consultant with a small surveying firm on the western edge of the eastern plains of Colorado. Even before the recent spike in oil and gas development, they did quite a bit of work in this field. I asked the PLS what kind of deliverables the local counties were requiring. "Let me show you," he said.

He grabbed a folder containing a raft of small-format survey exhibits. I saw hydrology exhibits showing an oil well and its proximity to open water. The county also required improvement and access exhibits as well as an exhibit locating the oil well within its section. This particular county was on the leaner side when it came to regulations.

"Now look at something a little more challenging." He tossed me a draft copy of proposed regulations of a nearby county: 54 pages in all. A quick look showed a facility improvement plan requiring 18 different criteria that needed to be illustrated. (Link to PDF.) There seems to be plenty of other compliance documents that surveyors can provide as well. Which brings us to another market opportunity …

Representation: Larger players in the oil and gas market have internal legal and compliance departments. However, smaller companies need help navigating these often-complex processes. Who better than the surveyor, who put most of the documentation together?

For some ideas, check out two articles I wrote on the subject: Part one and part two of “Representin'.” These articles discuss land-use representation for residential development, but the principles are similar for any land use project.

Until next time,

 
 
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Aerial Mapping Corporate Profiles
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