Oil Patch Times: 2009 economics

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By The Staff

Going on four years now, lobbyists for New Mexico’s oil and gas industry have said the “Pit Rule” should be based on sound science.

If they wanted to be judged on facts, they would supply a decent sampling of information. Instead, their pitch crumbles into raw politics as other information pops out in print.

The full story begins with the hundred thousand oil and gas wells drilled in New Mexico over the years, and continues with the tens of thousands of new wells slated to be drilled. Each well has a surrounding work area, called a “drill pad,” of one to five acres, accessed from the highway by a network of dirt roads long enough to reach every well.

Where geologic formations hold substantial oil and gas, the result resembles a giant Chinese checkerboard of well sites laid on ranch land, forest land or BLM land.

As with car exhaust, problems that are small at first grow as they occur on a larger scale. A notable issue is what happens with the drilling wastes.

“Drilling wastes” include “drilling mud,” a commercial product of clay and unstated ingredients that works as a lubricant and pressurant in drilling. Then come wastes of crude oil and salt from brine.

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