Protecting Land Resources

Land provides us with our livelihood and it is critical that we maintain it for future generations. At Concho, we respect the land with which we work and develop. 

Operational Approach

Extended Lateral Development

We have successfully minimized our surface impact through measures within our drilling operations. For example, our extended lateral development has resulted in a reduction in land disturbance.

Multi-Well Project Development

Where possible, Concho has shifted to project development, which involves drilling multiple wells from a single surface site. With this style of development, we can build modular facilities to operate well sites. Project development further minimizes our footprint by reducing construction of repetitive infrastructure and vehicular traffic.

Pre Drilling On-Site Inspections

For every well we drill, we use detailed surface use drawings to plan the exact location of all facilities on a site. When drafting these drawings, we assess topography changes, roads, pipelines, and manmade obstacles to avoid potential operational delays and—above all—surface disturbances. While required by the Bureau of Land Management, we perform this pre-drilling on-site inspection on all potential drilling locations in New Mexico and Texas as a best practice.

Hydraulic Fracturing: What It Is, How We Use It

Hydraulic fracturing is a valuable technique that enables exploration and production companies to access resources of oil and natural gas that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to reach. This technique uses a mixture of water, chemical additives and sand that is pumped into a well under pressure, creating pathways in rock formations underground. The fluids utilized in this process are typically more than 99% water and sand. Less than 1% is composed of chemical additives that are highly diluted and typically found in common household products, such as laundry detergents. The pathways in the rock formed by hydraulic fracturing allow oil and natural gas to flow more freely, increasing resource production. Hydraulic fracturing, which has been in use in the U.S. since the 1940s, has significantly boosted oil and natural gas production and enhanced our country’s competitiveness on a global scale.

When using hydraulic fracturing, we take great care to protect groundwater. The process occurs thousands of feet beneath the surface, well below drinking water aquifers. Additionally, when a well is drilled, steel casing and surrounding layers of concrete are installed to provide a safe barrier between producing and non-producing formations.

At Concho, hydraulic fracturing is integral to our business and allows us to create jobs right here in America. Because we want our hydraulic fracturing work to be as transparent as possible, we publicly report all chemicals on our hydraulic fracturing jobs. We are a member of FracFocus, the national hydraulic fracturing chemical registry. FracFocus is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, two organizations whose missions revolve around conservation and environmental protection. The FracFocus website makes it possible for anyone to search for well sites across the U.S. that have been hydraulically fractured to see what chemicals were used at a given well.

Going forward, we will continue to disclose our use of hydraulic fracturing in our sustainability communications and to FracFocus.

Hydraulic Fracturing FAQ

What percentage of Concho’s wells are listed on FracFocus?

Information about almost all of our operated wells is uploaded to FracFocus. We started providing this information in 2012.

What percentage of Concho’s hydraulic fracturing fluids is water versus chemical additives?

In general, more than 99% of our frac fluid is water and sand, and less than 1% comprises chemical additives.

What does Concho do to protect our drinking water?

For each well we drill, we create a detailed drilling and completion plan. When a well is drilled, steel casing and surrounding layers of concrete are installed to provide a safe barrier to protect the drinking water aquifers.

West Texas and Permian Basin Native Seeds Projects

Native plants are a vital component of wildlife habitat and ecosystem health. Increased construction of highways, land fragmentation, and commercial development have increased the susceptibility of native plant communities to exotic grasses that reduce the quality of wildlife habitats.

The West Texas and Permian Basin Native Seeds Projects were started by the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville to promote land stewardship, provide economic sources of locally adapted native seeds for use in site restoration, and enable the reduction of environmental footprints through effective rangeland restoration using native plant species. These projects collect, evaluate, and release seed sources of West Texas native plants to make locally adapted native seeds readily available to customers. In addition, this project promotes the use of native plants in rangeland restoration for use during the reclamation process. Since 2010, the projects have amassed almost 1,000 seed collections, commercialized several new native seed varieties and provided restoration recommendations for thousands of acres in the region. 

Concho has provided support for the development of locally adapted native seeds through the Texas Native Seeds (TNS) of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, which also provides administrative oversight of TNS, and Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University. A goal of TNS is to understand how certain species perform across a large geographic region to then identify groups of populations for use throughout the region. TNS maintains and monitors seed evaluation sites to then select regionally adapted populations of native species for increased distribution and commercialization. Each year TNS plants new species for evaluation and recently installed a demonstration planting in downtown Midland on the Concho campus to showcase current and future commercially available native plants that are appropriate for the Permian Basin region. Throughout the year, TNS hosts conservation events to share best practices with landowners and other conservation professionals. Through this outreach, TNS provides educational opportunities and promotes the benefits of utilizing native seeds for revegetation. 

With support from partners like Concho and in recognition of the program's success, the TNS Program was selected by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to receive the 2019 Texas Environmental Excellence Award for Agriculture. TNS was also selected by The Wildlife Society as the recipient of the 2019 Group Achievement Award.

Species Protection

New Mexico

In 2008, the Bureau of Land Management established an Area of Critical Environmental Concern for the Lesser Prairie Chicken and Dunes Sagebrush Lizard in Chaves County, New Mexico, to improve the habitat for and protect these species.

Recognizing the benefits of protecting the habitat and species where Concho operates, in 2010 we established a $400,000 revolving fund with The Conservation Fund, a non-profit organization, to acquire acreage in the Area of Critical Environmental Concern in New Mexico. Our goal: create a protected area to sustain and restore the population of the Lesser Prairie Chicken and Dunes Sagebrush Lizard.

Our work with The Conservation Fund significantly contributed to the protection of 58,000 acres of prime grassland habitat in the Area of Critical Environmental Concern, which resulted in the first Lesser Prairie Chicken stronghold.


In 2013, Concho continued to work with The Conservation Fund to leverage the revolving fund to obtain an additional $1.2 million in federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program funds in order to create the 14,037-acre Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area, established in 2014. Through coordinated work with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and The Nature Conservancy, our efforts resulted in the first new Texas Wildlife Management Area since 2006. This area is a refuge for native grassland birds and wildlife, including the Lesser Prairie Chicken, Baird’s Sparrow, Ferruginous Hawk, Western Burrowing Owl, Swift Fox, Arizona Black Tailed Prairie Dog, Texas Horned Lizard and White-tailed Deer.

Candidate Conservation Agreements

Concho has been an early and active participant in the Candidate Conservation Agreements created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management which are formal agreements with property owners, industry and others to address species conservation. The Candidate Conservation Agreements aim to protect these species by requiring the mitigation activities listed below. Since 2010, Concho has contributed $7.3 million to mitigation efforts.

  • Purchase of land or permanent conservation easements.
  • Eradication of invasive species.
  • Planting of native vegetation.
  • Reclamation of abandoned roads and well pads.
  • Removal of abandoned power lines and poles.
  • Establishment of wildlife watering facilities.

Concho was a leader in developing the Candidate Conservation Agreements to protect the Lesser Prairie Chicken, Dunes Sagebrush Lizard and Texas Hornshell Mussel and their respective habitats. We actively participate in these agreements and to improve the species habitats, in 2010, we enrolled 50,000 acres in the conservation lands—one of the first parties to do so—and have added acreage over time for a current enrollment of 264,000 acres. By enrolling acreage, we are formalizing our commitment to comply with the Candidate Conservation Agreements, which include the measures listed above.

In response to The Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Plan and Candidate Conservation Agreement, covering its habitat in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, 145 energy companies, including Concho, enrolled acreage generating about $65 million for conservation, and establishing a non-wasting endowment for Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat protection, improvement and mitigation. In addition, Concho is enrolled in the New Mexico Candidate Conservation Agreements for the Lesser Prairie Chicken and Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, and the agreements for the Texas Hornshell Mussel in Texas and New Mexico.

Environmental Release Notification and Remediation

Concho has developed long-term relationships with federal, state and local agencies regarding environmental release reporting and remediation that are based on mutual respect and trust. In addition, we have internal reporting requirements that meet or exceed regulatory requirements. We track internally all releases one barrel or greater and benchmark our quarterly performance against American Exploration and Production Council (AXPC) annual release metrics. AXPC is a national trade association that represents some of the largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in the United States. To reduce releases and minimize environmental impact, we utilize best management practices, including:

  • Monthly environmental incident reduction team meetings.
  • Air patrol of high-volume water disposal pipelines.
  • Construction of lined facilities.
  • Comprehensive emergency action plan for immediate notification and management of environmental releases.
  • Quarterly goal setting for release reduction.