In oil field jargon there is a term called “shooting a white elephant” This is that once in a lifetime event when a geologist will prospect and hit a new oil or gas field. A friend Larry Wender, geologist in ARAMCO had prospected a new potential small field in Southern Arabia. On Thursday night, that is like Saturday in the western world, he left the drilling site very disheartened. They had reached the final depth and nothing of any real significance was flowing. On Saturday he came into his office very sad and was greeted by his secretary. She offered congratulations and he quizzed her how a dry hole could be considered a reason for congratulations. “Listen Larry,” she said. Through an open door a conference call was going on between management and staff at the well site. The well had started flowing and a new gas field was discovered. A joyful Larry Wender had shot a white elephant.
We in Union Parish are holding our breath that someone is about to shoot a white elephant in our own back yard. Rumors of big wells with large returns that have been used to define a large reservoir have been circulating for years. Finally, a bonafide well that is grinding its way to a pre-disclosed depth two mile into the earths crust will let us know if we are truly sitting on the Bonanza that has been talked about for a century.
Oil company representatives and leasing land men are around us making offers that are three times the lease money and fifty percent more of the production than was offered just a few years ago. Many times the oil companies are looked on with skepticism and suspect as leases are negotiated with land owners. While there are some unscrupulous leasers in the industry, the major oil companies do not have the time nor the desire to take advantage of the average land owner. This has not all ways been the case. My grandfather and his law partners, Earl and Huey Long took cases where landowners, some of which were widowed women, were truly being taken advantage of. One successful fight was when the three successfully took on Transcontinental Oil Company in the appeals court. These types of fights are subjects of historical discussion and are rare today. If a land owner has any doubts about a potential lease, the land owner should seek legal review of the lease before signing. The legal councils in Union Parish are well versed and understand how the land owner should be treated. Above all, a respectful relationship should develop between the oil company and the land owner as both may soon become long term partners.
If in fact we do have the boom of a new oil find the economics will play well for the area at large. Economics courses teach us that a dollar earned will turn over seven times in a community. That means that a lot of dollars will be changing hands a lot of times. It would also mean a new and successful tax base that will make major impacts on our local culture. It will be important that the leadership is in place to adequately manage these new funds for present and future generations.
For now, let the discussions carry on, the speculation continue and planning begin. Sit back and enjoy the ride and wait to see if we are truly about to shoot a white elephant.