The Lesser Praire Chicken's Impact on Texas Oil

Lesser Praire Chicken
Lesser Praire Chicken

In late March 2014, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFW) listed the lesser praire chicken as threatened under the endangered species act (ESA), much to the dismay of the oil and gas industry. In Texas, the species is concentrated in the western portion of the state and in the Panhandle.

The lesser praire chicken's new designation will impact a five-state area, and according to USFW, 3-million acres of land have already been enrolled in targeted conservation plans. Although the species' new designation doesn't take control out of the states' hands completely, it does shift the balance of power to the federal government. Under special Rule 4(d) of the ESA, states' will be allowed to continue managing conservation efforts for the species and avoid further regulation of activities such as oil and gas development and utility line maintenance.

The lesser praire chicken is in dire straits. To date, we understand that oil and gas companies, ranchers and other landowners have signed up over 3 million acres of land for participation in the states’ range-wide conservation plan and the NRCS’ Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative. We expect these plans to work for business, landowners and the conservation of prairie-chickens.
— USFW Director Dan Ashe

egislation designed to fight alleged abuse of the ESA has been proposed by multiple lawmakers across the country. The State of Kansas and Oklahoma have both filed lawsuits against the federal designation of the lesser praire chicken.

This kind of federal intrusion creates unworkable difficulties for Texas businesses and landowners. The result will undoubtedly impact Texas energy production in the chicken’s range area throughout the Panhandle and in the heart of the Permian Basin, with damaging effects on operators who produce more than one-third of this nation’s crude oil.” According to Craddick, there are more than one-hundred species in Texas proposed for listing in the next three years.
— Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick

Depending on a species' habitat, the Eagle Ford Shale could be impacted if the USFW designates an animal native to South Texas as threatened or endangered. Any new ESA designations in South Texas could potentially have an impact on the lucrative play.



Winter NAPE Expo Business Conference Highlights - 2014


The NAPE Expo is a North American event with some international influence, which features key players in the oil and gas industry. The business conference theme for 2014 was sustainability in the U.S. oil and gas industry.

The conference touched on key issues such as hydraulic fracking, regulatory and environmental issues, operational procedures and technological innovations.

Hydraulic Fracking and the Issue of Water

Multiple speakers  put a spotlight on the practice of hydraulic fracturing, and water sustainability. Here are some of their comments:

  • Former Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, said, "I believe hydraulic fracking is safe... there is not a single case where fracking has caused an environmental problem for anyone."
  • David Blackmon, Dir. FTI Consulting, said, "the biggest issue by far facing the industry today is water."
  • 880 Trillion Gallons of brackish water in Texas could potentially be used for development in 2 - 3 years according to Blackmon
  • "The Eagle Ford doesn't flow back as much water as other areas, and it looks like its going to be at a net water deficit for some time," said Andrew Slaughter, VP, Upstream Research, IHS

Regulations and Environmental Issues

  • Effective January 1st, new casing and cementing regulations went into effect for all Texas Operators
  • Texas Rail Road Commissioner, Christi Craddick, to Texas Operators: "we'll be implementing and enforcing flaring rules [in February 2014]." Read more at
  • David Blackmon, Dir. FTI Consulting, said, "the Endangered Species Act could potentially have a significant (detrimental) impact on business in [Texas]."

Operational Procedures and Using Technology for Sustainability

  • Robert Turnham, CEO, Goodrich Petroleum on business strategy: "We move early, identify opportunities and take the risk up-front. If you move early, then you enjoy lower royalty burdens straight off the top."
  • Apache converting waste gas to electricity for field grid usage
  • General industry focus on artificial lift technology in shale drilling to quickly drain reservoirs
  • New diverter technology being utilized to make shale drilling more economic in marginal wells

Other Notable Comments from the Conference

  • Luke Keller, VP, BP America, said, "[the] U.S. could achieve energy independence by 2035."
  • "$2000 financial benefit to every American household by 2015 due to unconventional drilling of natural gas," according to Don McClure, VP, Government Stakeholder Relations and Legal, EnCana Oil and Gas USA
  • "The U.S. has close to 200 - 300 years of hydrocarbon reserves," according to Charles McConnell, Rice University
  • Industry encouraged to support better outreach and education initiatives via social media outlets

Learn more about NAPE by visiting