Don’t let NM double drilling density

Just before the current administration leaves power, it may change the rules so natural-gas companies can drill twice the wells in the same space in New Mexico.

Hilcorp Energy currently has applied to the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission for a rule change to double the number of natural-gas wells allowed in the Blanco-Mesaverde gas pool across San Juan and Rio Arriba counties. That’s bad news for the air quality of 13,000 children and adults in San Juan County who already struggle with asthma.

Please attend the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission Hearing at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19 at Porter Hall, 1st floor, Wendell Chino Building, 1220 S. St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, to speak out against this proposal.

Under current rules, operators can drill eight wells per 640 acres of land. If Hilcorp is granted its exemption, up to 8,000 new wells will be drilled in San Juan and Rio Arriba counties in northwest New Mexico. In addition, the public will no longer have the opportunity to comment on well-density issues in the Blanco-Mesaverde gas pool. Hilcorp’s proposal would circumvent the need to analyze the impacts of more oil and gas development on public health, water resources, air quality, and the environment.

Before the commission makes any decision, Hilcorp’s proposal should take into consideration concerns from the public and impacted communities and include stringent and thorough analysis of environmental, social, and cultural impacts double drilling will have. There are more than 40,000 oil and gas wells in northwestern New Mexico and over 91% of publicly managed lands are leased for oil and gas development. The region is also home to the nation’s largest methane cloud. More wells will mean more reckless venting, leaking, and flaring of methane, threatening the air we breath and water we drink and exacerbating climate disruption.

Please attend and send written comments opposing this proposal to Commission Clerk Florene Davidson at florene.davidson@state.nm.us. The email should reference Hilcorp’s application: Case No. 16403.

Please speak out against this reckless and dangerous move. Below are talking points to help guide your comments, but please add your own personal thoughts and words; they are much more powerful.

If you are a resident of San Juan or Rio Arriba Counties, include specifics about how you have been impacted by oil and gas. The Oil Conservation Division is particularly interested in hearing about impacts to property

As a public agency, the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission has both the regulatory authority and the duty to consider the concerns of the public about applications brought forth before the commission.

  • This proposal could impact water resources, create additional surface disturbance and landscape fragmentation, negatively affect air quality and contribute to climate change. It would be deeply troubling if the Oil Conservation Commission disregarded the concerns of San Juan and Rio Arriba Çounty citizens concerning the magnitude of Hilcorp’s application for well-density change.
  • San Juan County is already on the cusp of   exceeding safe ozone levels and oil and gas development is a major contributor to the Delaware-sized methane hot spot that is a black eye on New Mexico, the oil and gas industry, and the nation as a whole. I am concerned about whether Hilcorp is taking adequate steps to capture methane while drilling new wells or doing recompletions. Doubling drilling will certainly result in declining air quality that will affect 13,000 kids and adults in San Juan County who struggle with asthma.

The Bureau of Land Management’s 2003 Resource Management Plan for the Farmington Field Office is out of sync with this proposal for double drilling in the Blanco-Mesaverde gas pool. This proposal warrants a new process of comprehensive environmental review and public consultation to ensure that any negative impacts to communities, correlative rights, environmental and cultural resources are mitigated.

  • Hilcorp is a bad-faith actor with a history of violations in other states.  We are deeply concerned about whether Hilcorp’s recompletions in the Blanco-Mesaverde are in compliance with EPA rules that require green completions to capture methane.
  • We are concerned about whether the Oil Conservation Commission provided enough public notice for those members of the public who are affected to know about and be able to attend this hearing or the Sept. 13 hearing. Since then, Hilcorp has made misleading and confusing statements in the media about the scope of this application. Hilcorp has suggested that this application is only about re-completions, but there is nothing in the application that limits Hilcorp or other operators to recompletions. We know that new wells could be drilled as a result of this proposal, and Hilcorp’s attempt to conceal this from the public is troubling.


Photo by Daniel Tso

Don’t let NM double drilling density

One thought on “Don’t let NM double drilling density

  • November 17, 2018 at 12:48 am

    The additional roads, pipelines and well pads will significantly impact wildlife.

Comments are closed.