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  • Writer's pictureRyan Barnhart

What I saw at PBLA - 2021

I remember way back during my elementary school days, the excitement that everyone felt on the last day of school. The bell rang, and everyone ran out the door, full of energy for a great summer. That was the general mood at last week’s PBLA Shrimp Boil and Golf Tournament in Midland, Texas.

As everyone knows, 2020 was a tough time for West Texas and the Permian Basin. The area actually had an almost 2-month stretch with zero transactions and the price of oil cratered. In addition, social events, where a good amount of business gets done, were almost non-existent. Very few people were able or willing to get out and exercise the lifeblood ritual of the oil and gas industry, the face-to-face discussion.

People began getting vaccinated late in 2020. On March 10, 2021, Texas lifted it’s mask mandate and allowed businesses to open at 100% capacity. Several other states quickly followed suit, and the industry quickly began planning for in-person events. The Permian Basin Landman Association confirmed they were holding their annual Shrimp Boil and Golf Tournament on April 13-15, and the anticipation was on.

For those of you unfamiliar with this event, this is a huge deal. Industry “movers and shakers” come together to connect, in person, and talk business. People plan business meetings around the social events, and deals get done in and around Midland during the event This is a great opportunity to gauge the mood of the area, and this is where my school analogy comes in.

We typically host a happy hour prior to the Shrimp Boil. This year we had people calling us, to ask if we were doing it. We had a tremendous response when invitations went out, and we got to reconnect with long-time friends, many of whom we hadn’t seen in person in months, and in some cases people we hadn't seen in over a year. We had even more people reach out to talk about meeting before or after the social, or connecting on the golf course the next day. The general mood was very similar to that “I can’t wait for summer” enthusiasm. Everyone seemed to be excited to get back to interacting in person.

The social angle is understandable. We’re a social bunch in this industry. What was even more heartening, was the quiet confidence for an improvement in the industry itself. People were talking business, planning for growth, and emerging from the storm of the past several months. Everyone was asking “How’s business?” And the response was typically, “Damn, we’re busy!” It was great to catch up with people in person. We’ve missed them. But it was just as good to hear that people are busy, and the optimism is slowly building.

Thank you to everyone who came by to talk, and thank you to our friends who have supported us during the ups and downs of this industry. Thank you to PBLA and its organizers, and to the people of Midland, for being great hosts.

Special thanks for the folks in our Midland office who planned and organized our participation in this event. We’re fortunate to have great people working at PLM, and they went above and beyond to make sure we made a positive impression.

Suddenly we have a full plate of industry events across all of the basins where we work, and as more states open, we’ll plan to be there as well, reconnecting with our friends.

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