Showing Energy the Way

It’s Oil In the Family


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news_01-07-09_trYou’ve heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of all invention?” Meet two brothers that took a necessity and turned it into a 6 mil lion-a-year success story. That would be Don Valden and Ted Valdez, founders of Texas Right of Way Associates, Inc.

Three years ago Valden, who changed his name for business purposes, was a right-of-way agent and Valdez, who negotiated electricity contracts for commercial users, saw the approaching need of right of way agents for oil and gas companies. Most agents they knew were retiring and the industry wasn’t replacing them because there was no official training program. Hence, the idea of a professional training program was born. “With the beginning of the Barnett Shale, we saw the shortage coming and started the training center,” said Valden, CEO. It’s the only right of way training center locally.”

The 6-hour class trains and supplies oil and gas agents for energy companies. The agent is an independent contractor who negotiates on behalf of the energy company with the land owner to acquire an easement for the pipeline to transmit gas from the well to the refinery, says Valden. In other words, “We’re a liaison between the land owner and energy company for a win/win situation. We work with ten major energy companies in the Barnett Shale and right of way agents can earn from $40,000 to $90,000 annually.”

Because of the Barnett Shale, oil and gas is everywhere, says Valden. It’s in 19 counties in Texas and it’s over a mile deep in Tarrant County. Underground pipelines are safer because of the thicker coating on the outside which protects against corrosion, breakage and seepage. The pipeline is regulated by the Texas Railroad Commission and inspected inside and out twice a year.

news_01-07-09-ll“What is right of way?” Valdez says “In the strict sense of the word, right of way refers to the land on which infrastructure is built. Infrastructure could be anything from a highway to an airport. Projects such as pipelines, sewers, power lines or cell towers all require right of way. Generally speaking, the term right of way is used to describe the industry as a whole and the professionals who are involved in it. There are many areas of specialization in right of way to include acquisition and negotiation, property management, relocation, appraisal, title, surveying, engineering, attorneys, and records management. A number of related industries and professionals whose responsibilities overlap right of way, such as soil and water conservation, construction, mineral leasing (landman), telecommunications, environmental consultants, title abstracting and mapping.”

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The company is truly a family affair. Brother Ted is president and teaches negotiating skills. Mom, Peggy, helps organize training classes and dad Joe, a recent retiree of 42 years from General Motors, is the office manager. Don’s wife Marie and Ted’s wife Anya help organize the training classes. Son-in-law Cody Ragsdale is a right of way agent, cousin Becky Castro is Don’s corporate assistant and Don’s daughter Brittany Valden handles marketing and is the receptionist.

Next Barnett Shale training class is scheduled for February 28, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the center, 925 University Dr. For more information and to register, call 817-377-0079 or visit