- Associated Press - Sunday, November 29, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico oil and gas operators will be required to report the amount and quality of water used to drill wells, officials said.

The data collection is an attempt by state agencies to scrutinize water use across New Mexico’s economic sectors, the Albuquerque Journal reported Saturday.

Adrienne Sandoval, director of the Oil Conservation Division of the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, said the reports will help fill a data gap for industry water use.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, blasts water, sand and chemicals underground to break through shale formations to retrieve oil.

Operators previously reported the amount of produced water injected into storage wells but were not required to disclose water data for well completions.



Produced water is a salty chemical mixture surfacing along with petroleum, which companies often recycle for future fracking.

“A justifiable concern from the public is that New Mexico is a very dry and arid state, and our oil and gas operations are consuming some of that fresh water,” Sandoval said.

There are also anecdotal reports of companies using brackish water for drilling, but there is no supporting data, Sandoval said.

Office of the State Engineer data show oil and gas operations account for less than 1% of New Mexico’s water use.

The Produced Water Act passed last year by the state Legislature sought to clarify oil field wastewater rules. Operators will be required to list the amount of dissolved solids in the water, which is an indicator of its quality.

Companies must now submit water use data through an online reporting system within 45 days of well completion.

“Once we have that info and data collected for a little bit of time, we can look at the state of things in a better light to see whether or not we need to add (water) regulations or if things seem to be in a good state,” Sandoval said.

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