The LEM program at Marietta began as an answer to the intensive exploration by the petroleum industry in the Appalachian Basin, where the Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates that up to 5.5 billion barrels of oil and 15.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are potentially recoverable. Their Division of Oil and Gas has been besieged with permit requests in the last several years from enterprising energy companies seeking to explore the region.
With projections for continued growth in both world energy consumption and U.S. energy exploration and development there will be greater opportunities for knowledgeable negotiators who have a strong understanding of the industry. The role of land professionals will be to ethically and expertly manage business dealings, transactions and processes as stewards of our country's natural resources.
To ensure that LEM graduates will be fully prepared and that industry needs were being fully addressed in compliance with current accreditation criteria, Marietta faculty collaborated with the Association of American Professional Landmen (AAPL) while creating the LEM program.
The resulting interdisciplinary curriculum will require a rigorous business core augmented with courses such as Land-Use Planning from the Environmental Studies Department; Geographic Information Systems Mapping & Analysis from the Geology Department; and Business/Technical Writing from the English Department.
Oil, Gas & Energy Law, a new course in the Management Department, was developed specifically to round out the LEM major, according to economics professor and LEM Program Coordinator Gregory Delemeester. "Because of our strong petroleum engineering and business programs," he says, "we already had all of the essential pieces of the curriculum except for a dedicated course on oil and gas law."
Delemeester points out that an industry internship is also a requirement of the major. The "required experiential component differentiates our program" and "serves as the capstone experience" for LEM students, who will generally complete their internship in the summer after junior year. He adds that part of his role will be to facilitate the internship positions at locations such as "oil & gas exploration companies, alternative energy companies, law firms, state regulatory agencies, and environmental remediation companies."
"A variety of students are pursuing the LEM degree," says Delemeester, including some who are switching out of petroleum engineering after realizing that their comparative strengths "may not be on the quantitative/analytical side but more on the business/communication side of the industry." Many of the interested students, he adds, "come from families with a connection to the oil and gas industry, such as those who have been personally affected by the land exploration and leasing of mineral rights."
Marietta College is also hoping to attract more female students via the new LEM option; the campus is currently about 58% male. To address this, Delemeester will feature a variety of female speakers during an Oil & Gas Symposium planned for campus this fall to provide young women with additional exposure to potential role models.
With Marietta College's top-ranked petroleum engineering program providing industry expertise and its location in the Appalachian foothills near the oil and gas 'sweet spots' of the Utica Shale, the new LEM program at Marietta is an attractive option for students who want to be well-prepared for the promising business opportunities in the energy industry.