Lease Pumper's Handbook Published by the Commission on Marginally Producing Oil and Gas Wells of Oklahoma, First Edition 2003 Written by Leslie V. Langston Table of Contents Introductions A. Cover Sheet Book Title B. Publishing Information First Edition, 2003

The Lease Pumper's Handbook

Published by the Commission on Marginally Producing Oil and Gas Wells of Oklahoma, First Edition 2003 Written by Leslie V. Langston Table of Contents Introductions A. Cover Sheet Book Title B. Publishing Information First Edition, 2003


Written by Leslie V. Langston


Publishing Information. First Edition, 2003. C. Foreword. Rick Chapman, Executive Director (1996-2000) Commission on Marginally Producing Oil and Gas Wells, State of Oklahoma. D. Dedication. John A. Taylor, Chairman (1992-1998) Commission on Marginally Producing Oil And Gas Wells, State of Oklahoma. E. Author’s Introduction. Leslie V. Langston, Author, First Edition F. Commission Introduction. Liz Fajen, Executive Director, Commission on Marginally Producing Oil and Gas Wells, State of Oklahoma.




A. Getting to the Lease 

Because many leases are located in remote areas, lease pumpers frequently have to drive long distances to visit all of the wells under their care. Thus, two major concerns of the lease pumper are having a dependable mode of transportation to travel to the lease sites and the ability to find and identify the exact location of the wells to be serviced. This section discusses the means of getting to the lease. 

Figure 1. A lease pumper and the lease vehicle. (courtesy Marathon Oil Co. Safety Dept., Iraan, Texas) 

A-1. Vehicle Expense and Maintenance. 

As discussed in the previous chapter, lease operating expenses, including vehicle and equipment maintenance, are of constant importance to the lease operator. The lease operator is not only concerned with the cost of the vehicle but also with the expenses of maintaining the vehicle. The lease pumper can help keep these expenses reasonable through the proper use and maintenance of the vehicle. 

Taking care of the lease vehicle. 

The supervisor is well aware of how well the lease pumper takes care of the lease vehicle. Most oil companies maintain monthly and annual records that give costs per mile and total expenses. When a company has several lease pumpers, these records can reflect how the lease pumpers take care of their vehicles and can indicate their driving habits. 

Some lease vehicles have a high cost per mile because of long driving distances, often over poor rocky roads with road maintenance. But even the operating costs and maintenance needs of these vehicles can be reduced through good driving habits. High speeds with excessive braking lower fuel economy, wear out the running system or gear train more quickly, and will result in an undependable vehicle. The lease pumper must always observe good driving practices and drive with care. Driving with a heavy foot on the accelerator can seldom be justified. 

Driving to and from the lease. 

If a lease is several miles away from the lease pumper’s home, it is easy to fall into the habit of driving too fast. When going to work, the lease pumper is usually thinking about the 2A-2 problems of the day, planning how to achieve the daily work objectives, and thinking about the many things that can go wrong. Distracted in this way, the lease pumper continues to accelerate. 

On the way home, the lease pumper is thinking about all of the things to do at home, the little league game tonight, mowing the lawn, getting ready for a fishing trip or vacation, and dozens of other thoughts. There is so much to do that exceeding the speed limit seems justified— after all, it’s just for today. But before long, the lease pumper develops the habit of speeding every day and loses good driving judgment. Now the lease pumper is abusing the vehicle not occasionally but every day. 

Lease roads. Lease roads are expensive to keep up. There are so many other needs that are required to maintain or enhance production, and money seldom becomes available for road maintenance. Many lease owners are willing to pay higher vehicle expenses rather than spend money on roads. 

Figure 2. A typical lease road. 

The lease pumper must use common sense driving the lease roads. It is important to keep speeds low enough to keep from bruising the tires on rocks. Tire replacement bills will reflect the lease pumper’s driving habits. If there is a large rock on the lease road, the lease pumper should stop and move it to the side rather than create a new road from driving around it. 

A-2. Company Policies for Vehicle Use. 

Personal use of the vehicle. 

Many lease operators allow their lease pumpers to take the lease vehicle home. That makes it easy to develop bad habits. The lease pumper may occasionally stop at a convenience store because, after all, it is right on the way. The lease pumper may need to buy some stamps, and the post office is only a few blocks away, so the trip gets a little longer. Soon, the lease pumper has developed the habit of making minor detours away from the direct route to work as a part of the daily routine, so that it becomes a perk, or fringe benefit, to the job. After all, the lease pumper works all business hours from Monday through Friday for the company, and this is the only time many of these businesses are open. 

While these side-trips may be acceptable with some companies, lease pumpers should clearly understand the policies of their own companies and use good judgment. 

Unauthorized personnel in the vehicle. The lease pumper who picks up hitchhikers or takes someone along on the job can create problems for all involved, including the employer and the passenger. It is difficult when a close friend or relative is visiting from far away, and the lease pumper must drive off to work leaving them behind. After all, the lease pumper is driving a vehicle 2A-3 designed for two or more people and is working alone and may not even see another company employee for the rest of the week. 

The first problem is with insurance. What happens if the lease pumper has an accident and the passenger is seriously injured or killed? Who will pay the immediate medical expenses and even long-range medical recovery and rehabilitation expenses? These costs can quickly exceed a hundred thousand dollars and expensive treatments could continue for years. Who will pay the bills? What if the passenger has no insurance? There is a good possibility that the company’s insurance will not cover the expenses either. It could fall to the lease pumper’s insurance, and that insurer may also refuse to pay because the injury occurred while violating company policies. 

This situation could lead to lawsuits, which can result in multimillion-dollar settlements. Even if the lease pumper should win the lawsuit and not be held responsible, lawyer’s fees and court costs can prove expensive. 

While larger companies are likely to have policies against permitting riders in lease vehicles, many smaller lease operators will not have written policies against the practice and may not verbally object to permitting passengers to ride with the lease pumper for the day. But the lease pumper must always be aware of the position in which the company or lease owner is placed. As a good employee, the lease pumper should at least discuss the matter with the employer. They may also determine the stance of the company’s insurance carrier. If the lease owner has no objections, the lease pumper may consider purchasing a permanent or temporary rider policy that can be attached to a personal insurance policy in order to protect the employer, the passenger, and the lease pumper. 

A-3. Locating the Lease. 

During the last few years, an effort has been made to name roads in rural areas that provide access to a residence. This assists in mail and package delivery and can help workers find a lease. 

Location identification signs. Whether or not a road is named, many lease operators will erect a lease identification sign to aid in directing service trucks to their production locations. Some of the information that each sign might include is: 

· The lease operator. 

· The lease name. The lease is often named after the owner of the mineral rights. 

· The lease location based on the Geological Survey system. 

The federal system of rectangular surveys. 

Most globes show the horizontal lines or latitudes and vertical lines or longitudes that are used to mark the surface of the earth. In the United States, the entire country, except for the original colonies and the state of Texas, is designated with a rectangular survey system. All land in this system is divided into squares that are approximately one mile on each side. These one square-mile blocks are called sections. Each group of 36 sections with six sections on a side is called a township. The sections within a township are numbered beginning in the northeast corner of the township and going west. The numbering then goes south to the next row of sections and continues east. In this way, the first, third, and fifth rows as numbered from the top or north edge of the township are numbered east to west and the even-numbered rows (2, 4, and 6) are numbered west to east. Thus, section 2A-4 1 within a township is in the northeast corner and section 36 is in the southeast corner (Figure 3). 

Figure 3. Numbering of the sections in a township. 

Townships are also numbered within a survey area. The numbering of townships is based on latitudes and longitudes. Another term for longitude line is meridian and one longitude for a particular survey area is called a principal meridian. More than twenty principal meridians have been designated in the U.S. 

Principal meridians are crossed by latitude lines. One latitude line within a survey area is designated the baseline. 

An example may clarify this system. Oklahoma has two survey areas: the panhandle is under one survey area and the remainder of the state is under a second survey area. The principal meridian for the major portion of Oklahoma is called the Indian Meridian and lies close along a longitude of 97°14’ West. The baseline for this portion of the state lies close to latitude 34°30’ North and crosses the principal meridian in south central Oklahoma (Figure 4). 

The intersection of the principal meridian and the baseline divides the survey area into quadrants. A column of townships located north and south of each other is referred to as a range. A row of townships running east and west of each other is referred to as a township. Ranges are numbered beginning at the principal meridian. Thus, all of the townships along the west side of the principal meridian are referred to as Range 1 West or R1W. The next column of townships to the west are designated Range 2 West or R2W and so on until the western edge of the survey area is reached. Similarly, the first column of townships on the east side of the principal meridian are referred to as Range 1 East or R1E. This numbering continues consecutively to the eastern edge of the survey area. 

Figure4. Principal meridian and baseline locations in Oklahoma. 

The rows of townships are numbered in a similar manner. Thus, the baseline of the survey area forms the southern boundary of Township 1 North or T1N and the northern boundary of Township 1 South or T1S. The numbering of the rows of townships continues north and south to the ends of the survey area. 

This system allows the identification of a piece of land within one square mile. For example, if a lease is located on Section 31 of township T7N, R14E, the lease pumper knows that the land is in the seventh row of townships north of the baseline and the fourteenth column of townships east of the principal meridian. Further, the lease is on the section of land located in the southwest corner of that township. 

This system of identifying land is used to create a legal description of most rural land (though some land, especially within towns and cities, may be identified with a system of plats). The legal description locates a section of land by means of its township and numbered section location and then identifies portions of the section. For example, a section of land contains about 640 acres. If a piece of property consists of the 160 acres—that is, one-fourth of the section—in the northwest part of the section within the township described in the previous paragraph, the legal description of that piece of property may be given as T7N, R14E, Sect. 31, NW¼. Often the description is written beginning with the smallest division, thus: NW¼, Sect. 31, T7N, R14E. 

Naturally, this system would be impractical if a person had to actually start at the intersection of the principal meridian and the baseline to locate a particular parcel of land. Many land maps identify the townships using this system. Additionally, most leases have signs that identify the well locations within the section. These are generally given as a distance in feet as measured from two boundaries of the section. For example, assume that the well is located 660 feet from the north boundary line of the section and 1,980 feet from the west boundary line, then the location can be indicated as 660' FNL (from north line) and 1,980' FWL. If a line is drawn east to west across the property at 660 feet from the north boundary line, the well should be located along that line at a distance of 1,980 feet from the west boundary line. For this well location, the lease site may display as sign containing the following: 


John Doe Oil Company 

Federal C Jones No. Y7 

660' FNL-1,980' FWL, 

Sec 31-T7N- R14E- OK 


Reading the sign from the end, shows that the well is located in Oklahoma (OK). States are generally designated by their two-letter postal abbreviations. The state abbreviation may or may not appear on the sign. 

Within this survey area, the well is located on section 31 of the township that is 7 north and 14 east of the intersection of the principal meridian and the baseline. This specific well is situated 660 feet from the north line of the section and 1,980 feet from the west line of the section. 

Other information given on the sign includes: 

John Doe Oil Company. This is the present owner of the oil well. If the owner changes, the sign is changed, and a closing bond must be placed in effect for the life of the well. 

Federal C Jones. The federal government owns the mineral rights, and the C indicates that this is the operator’s third federal lease. Elsewhere there will be land representing lease Federal A and at some other block of leased land is Federal B lease. These leases may or may not be active, but will not be redesignated once the letter is assigned. If an oil company 2A-6 leases more than 26 (the number of letters in the alphabet) blocks of federal land, the designations would start at the beginning of the alphabet with an A added to each identifier, so that the 27th well would be AA, the 28th would be AB, and so on. This process would be repeated through the alphabet, and started over with BA, BB, BC, etc. if required. 

Jones. A lease name may be designated by the operator. Often this will be the name of the surface rights owner. 

No. Y7. The well itself will often be designated by a letter and a number. The number generally represents the sequence of the wells drilled on the lease. In the example, the sign refers to the seventh well drilled on this lease. The letter is a code for the status of the well. For example, Y indicates that problems were encountered while drilling the well and the initial well was plugged, the rig repositioned, and the well redrilled from the surface. A dry hole marker should be located nearby. 

Locating the next lease

In addition to providing a legal description of a piece of land, knowing the section location can also help a lease pumper find another lease. For example, assume that a lease pumper is at the lease gate in the northeast corner of the lease described above and now needs to travel to the southeast corner of Section 28, T8N, R13E. Each section is approximately one mile or 5,280 feet along each side. The lease to be visited next is one township to the west and one to the north. The northeast corner of section 31 is one mile east of the R13E column of townships. It is then five miles north to the row T8N townships. Traveling another mile north will take the lease pumper to the south edge of the row of sections in T8N, R13E that includes Section 28. The lease pumper would then have to travel three sections or miles west to reach the southeast corner of Section 28. The total distance traveled would be 1 + 5 + 1 + 3 = 10 miles. 

Of course the exact distance may vary for several reasons. First, there may not be roads that allow the lease pumper to follow that exact route. It may be necessary to travel an extra distance and double back to reach the desired destination. The circumference of the earth (the distance around the earth at a latitude) gets progressively smaller as the distance from the equator increases. The earth also has continuous elevation changes to further complicate distance measurements. The driving distance from one side of a township to the other can be considerably more than six miles if there are a lot of hills and valleys to cross. 

In those areas of the country where the Federal System of Rectangular Surveys is not used, the lease pumper must be familiar with latitude and longitude designations that use compass directions and a system of 360 degrees in a circle, 60 minutes in a degree, and 60 seconds in a minute. 

Survey Markers.  

Before drilling wells on a lease, to locate the exact spot to drill the well, an accurate land survey must be made by a professional survey crew. This survey will begin at some recorded and recognized accurate marker as close to the leased land as possible. The survey crew will then determine the location of the lease relative to the witness point. Because land surveys can be expensive and their costs increase in proportion to the distance from the starting 2A-7 point, lease operators will often ask the survey crew to place a survey marker on the lease or as near to it as possible. This marker (Figure 5) will generally be installed in cement or other permanent structures. Often a sign will be posted nearby to indicate the presence of a survey marker (Figure 6). The survey marker may be centrally located within a lease area so that as more wells are drilled, future surveys can be made from the marker point that the first survey crew has established. 

Figure 5. A survey marker. 

Figure 6. A witness post sign indicating that a survey marker is nearby.