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Oil and gas spills up in NM, as production continues to grow

AP PHOTO In this April 24, 2015 file photo, pumpjacks work in a field in the Permian Basin near Lovington. An annual report just released shows oil and gas spill have increased as production has grown in New Mexico.Photo CreditInfoHead InfoBody statrtsPhoto Credit

Oil and gas companies in New Mexico reported an average of about 4.2 spills each day in 2018, per recent data from the Center for Western Priorities’ Oil and Gas Spills Tracker.

Data for the report was gathered from the State’s Oil Conservation Division, an arm of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

About 1,523 spills were reported in New Mexico, per the study, with 656 spills containing produced water to the tune of 91,914 barrels.

There were 456 oil spills in 2018, read the study, or 15,982 barrels.

About 247 million cubic feet of natural gas was leaked, the equivalent of 13,622 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

That amount of CO2 could power 1,631 homes, read the report, drive 2,892 cars for a year and burn about 14.8 million pounds of coal.

Eddy and Lea counties saw the highest rates of spillage, as both were listed as having more than 500 each.

The two southeastern counties also led the state in spillage throughout the five years of the study, from 2013 to 2018, both recording more than 500 each year.

The spills in 2018 accounted for a daily average 242 barrels of produced water and 44 barrels of crude oil spilled while 677,000 cubic feet of natural gas was leaked.

The most common cause of spills was equipment failure, blamed for 703 spills.

There were 198 spills chalked up to corrosion, and 89 to human error.

Lightning and fire were the cause of 84 spills combined, read the report.

Those numbers were consistent with 2017’s 1,522 reported spills, with daily averages of 257 barrels of produced water, 34 barrels of crude oil and 315,000 cubic feet of natural gas leaked.

There was a slight increase from 2016, which had a total of 1,310 oil and gas spills, averaging 3.6 per day.

That year, 658 spills – or 78,886 barrels – contained produced water, and 445 spills contained oil for a total of about 14,021 barrels.

Spills increase with production

The three biggest oil-producing states in the Mountain West Region are seeing varying growth in subsequent spills, as oil and gas production continues to grow, records show.

President Donald Trump championed his agenda of making America “energy independent,” encouraging production on American soil and aiming to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign fossil fuels.

The Tracker also included records from Wyoming and Colorado – the other two biggest oil-producing states in the region.

The three states reported a combined total of 2,834 spills, releasing 23,409 barrels of cured oil and 174,873 barrels of produced water.

That meant a daily average of 2,694 gallons of crude oil spilled, and 17,015 gallons of produced water, records show.


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