Rising costs attendant to increasing environmental awareness and regulation have captured the attention and exploration budgets of many independent oil and gas exploration companies. Many of these smaller companies are riding the horns of a dangerous dilemma. On the one hand, they cannot afford to maintain a permanent staff of environmental engineers and auditors necessary to investigate potential liability arising under federal and state "Superfund" laws. On the other hand, they cannot afford the risk of ignoring potential liability when buying leases and producing properties.

In order to minimize exposure for Superfund and manage environmental liability risks, many companies are conducting environmental site assessments prior to acquiring oil and gas exploration prospects. In order to keep down the costs of such investigations, smaller independents that lack environmental expertise on staff can enlist their landmen to conduct the preliminary aspects of the investigation called a "Phase I." Most of what is involved in a Phase I consists of the type of duties traditionally handled in our industry by petroleum landmen. In the oil and gas industry, landmen specializing in environmental audits arethe logical alternative to the more costly environmental engineering consulting firm.

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