The lease analyst is the employee at an oil company who monitors and maintains each oil and gas lease owned by the company. Companies own an interest in oil wells by way of their leasehold ownership in one or more leases that are legally involved with that well. In other words, in order for an oil company to own an interest in a well, they must own an interest in at least one lease from which that well is producing. A mineral owner has signed the oil and gas lease creating the leasehold ownership, and the mineral owner reserved a royalty in the lease. The leasehold ownership can be traded and sold between oil companies, as long as the mineral owner receives royalties from whoever owns it at the moment. That’s where the lease analyst comes in.
The lease analyst must be skilled with computers, and with reading legal documents. The analyst reads each clause of the lease and extracts the data as appropriate from each one, and enters that data into the company’s land database. This is extremely detailed work, and the lease analyst must be detail-oriented, meaning they have an eye for detail and pick up on words and phrases that usually would be overlooked by others lacking the skill. Entering the key information from the lease into the computer created a lease data record for that lease.
In addition to reading every word of the lease, the analyst must also read title opinions and contracts. Likewise, these documents usually must be analyzed and certain data entered into the land database also, creating either a title opinion data record or contract data record. That additional record must be cross-referenced to the lease data record. When they are created, the analyst will also analyze the Designation of Pooled Unit, Joint Operating Agreement, and joint venture agreements, surface leases, rights-of-way, and easements—each creating a separate record. Then each of those records must be cross-referenced to the lease data record.
Lease data records must be maintained meticulously, especially if the company that owns them is traded publicly on the stock exchange. Key data in every lease data record in the company’s database is pulled into a report that becomes part of the company’s annual 10-K report filed with the SEC. Providing false information, whether wrong or incomplete, in a 10-K is a federal crime. Company management could be at risk if the lease analyst doesn’t properly maintain the lease records.
This overview is just the tip of the iceberg for describing the responsibilities of a lease analyst.
Usually, a person begins their career as a Lease Technician. This is strictly a clerical position, entering accurately the data already extracted by a Lease Analyst or Senior Lease Analyst, as well as maintaining other records such as name and address records for Lessors in the leases.
Ideally, a Lease Technician is promoted to Junior Lease Analyst. Larger companies give that position the designation Lease Analyst I. As they gain experience they are promoted to Lease Analyst II, Lease Analyst III, then become a Senior Lease Analyst. Beyond a Senior Lease Analyst is the Senior Staff Lease Analyst or Staff Lease Analyst Advisor title, with all lease analyst positions reporting to the Lease Records Supervisor or Lease Records Manager.
Many companies require only a high school diploma or equivalent, to begin working in their Land Administration Department. Salaries for land administration professionals, including lease analysts, traditionally is higher in Houston, Texas, than in other cities where oil companies base their Land Administration Department. As of 2018, the starting salary for a Lease Technician ranges from $35,000 to $45,000 in Houston. Lease Analysts I can expect an entry salary of around $50,000, with $5,000+ added for each level above Lease Analyst I. However, a Senior Lease Analyst can expect a starting salary of at least $80,000, usually more. A Senior Staff Lease Analyst can land an initial salary in the six figures at a new employer, and Supervisors generally start (with no previous supervisory experience) at around $115,000 upward. A bachelor's degree automatically adds $5,000 per year to the beginning salary of any level of lease analyst or supervisor.
A career as a Lease Analyst is a very rewarding career for those who are highly motivated, self-disciplined, and careful about accuracy. For more information about lease analysts, visit the National Association of Lease and Title Analysts, NALTA, at www.nalta.org.