Origins to the Future
In a state which was primarily an agricultural economy, the early oil industry in Mississippi was one of anticipation and hope. The development of mineral resources was much needed by the people of Mississippi as we were a state rich in tradition but somewhat depressed economically. The early attempts at oil exploration were often promoters’ dreams with little success. The first successful exploration in Mississippi was the discovery of the Amory Field in Monroe County in 1926. This first successful well produced initially at a rate of 5 million cubic feet of gas per day. Mississippi was established as a true producing state!
With this success, the industry nationwide began to notice Mississippi and the Gulf Coast region and oil men from other oil producing areas came to Mississippi. Geologists, geophysicists, scouts and landmen came to explore the new virgin area. Continued drilling and exploration met with some success with the subsequent discovery of Jackson Gas Field. Not until September 5, 1939, did the exploration efforts really merit the full attention of the oil and gas industry of the nation. The G.C. Woodruf #1 Well drilled by Union Producing Company was officially completed at a rate of 235 barrels of oil per day, began sending staffs to Mississippi to exploit the region. The frenzy to acquire leases brought landmen from all over the country. One area from which these land men came was the Tri-State area of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. These early landmen, W. Brantley Jackson, C. H. “Red” Fidler, R. R. “Bob” Hart, and M. E. “Dutch” Miesse, all relocated to Jackson after having formed the Tri-State Landman’s Association in early 1939. With the start of the oil play in Mississippi and the beginning of World War II, the time and effort to start another landman’s association was not available. Finally, in June of 1944, W. Brandley Jackson, ‘Red” Fidler and other landmen saw the need to form another landman’s association for the purpose of having an opportunity to meet with fellow land men and learning from each other how to be more effective in negotiating and acquiring acreage for their companies. The early association was called “Mississippi Landmen’s Association” and its motto was “Together We Learn”.
From this humble beginning in 1944, when a few salaried landmen joined together to form a professional association, the association has grown to include all people who perform land functions, whether company landmen or independent landmen. Associate members are also an integral part of the membership, being comprised of attorneys, geologists, geophysicists, engineers and land technicians. Starting with fewer than twenty early members, the Mississippi Association of Petroleum Landmen (as the organization became known) climbed to a membership of over 900 members in the early 1980’s. Membership has declined in recent years with the lack of emphasis on domestic exploration but membership has stabilized at about 300 members. The association has been ever mindful of that early motto “Together We Learn” and has joined with the Mississippi Oil and Gas Lawyers in sponsoring a series of tri-annual Oil And Gas Law Institutes which have had strong participation and attendance throughout the years.