Texas Driller Sues U.S. to Get Visa for In-House Big-Game Hunter

(Bloomberg) -- Matador Resources Co. is suing U.S. immigration authorities to give the oil driller’s $110,00-a-year big-game hunting expert a visa.

Roy Dirk Ludick, a professional hunter and guide licensed in Zimbabwe since 2003, plays a critical role in Matador’s outreach to “high-valued partners, shareholders, and stakeholders,” the company said in a lawsuit against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The agency erred in denying Matador’s request to classify Ludick as an alien “of extraordinary ability in business,” according to the suit. Matador said Ludick is so good at what he does that he makes more than twice what other guides rake in.

U.S. oil producers are facing increasing pressure to curb spending -- especially on perks and salaries -- from investors keen to see better returns. Explorers such as Whiting Petroleum Corp. and Devon Energy Corp. have been slashing jobs to rein in costs. Halcon Resources Corp. elbowed aside its founder, wildcatter Floyd Wilson, who was criticized for things like flying private after the driller emerged from bankruptcy.

Matador “has access to various hunting properties in the United States,” according to the suit. “The hunting camps and surrounding habitats require year-round management by a professional guide with knowledge of and experience in extensive camp construction and maintenance, habitat management, and conservation.”

Coveted License

Mac Schmitz, a spokesman for Matador, didn’t immediately return telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment. A government spokesman declined to comment. Contact detail for Ludick couldn’t be located. Law360 first reported the lawsuit.

Hunting has long been a favored extracurricular pastime for oil explorers, executives and their investors. Exxon Mobil Corp.’s $35 billion acquisition of XTO Energy Inc. in 2010 was famously hatched during a quail hunt on a South Texas ranch.

Matador has been trying to get Ludick the right to work in the U.S. for at least six months.

Ludick “is a premier big game hunter and guide with more than 19 years of experience in the field,” according to the suit. The “Zimbabwe Professional Hunter and Guide” qualification he holds is “one of the most difficult to obtain and reputable licenses in the world.”

The case is MRC Energy Company v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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