Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rio Arriba County Special Use Permit Applications to Drill Update

The Rio Arriba County Board of County Commissioners decided to postpone on the decision about the drilling permits. The reported issue is that Approach Operating, LLC did not know from where the water for drilling would come.

Related post:

Rio Arriba County Special Use Permits to Drill for Oil and Gas

Monday, December 21, 2009

(San Miguel) County Wants Drilling Rules

Front Page north

County Wants Drilling Rules

Albuquerque Journal--> By Jessica Dyer
Journal Staff Writer

"San Miguel County officials know their county's energy-generating possibilities will soon spark interest, and they want to be prepared for all comers.

After watching other northern New Mexico communities race to get drilling ordinances in place with prospectors already at the door, San Miguel officials are getting proactive. The County Commission on Jan. 12 will vote on a proposed one-year moratorium on applications for permits to explore or excavate for oil, gas or geothermal energy. County attorney Jesus Lopez said the moratorium will allow the county time to draft an up-to-date and more thorough drilling ordinance than the one now in place.

The current ordinance — adopted in 1986 — requires a county permit for any drilling activity but has been deemed by officials as inadequate. Lopez said there are no drilling applications through the county now but "because it's happened in Rio Arriba and Santa Fe, we figured it's right around the corner and we might as well get on it."

Santa Fe County enacted its own drilling ordinance last year, while Rio Arriba County adopted its ordinance last spring.

County Manager Les Montoya said the move was prompted at least in part by news that the Santa Fe Opera recently had leased out 27,000 acres of mineral rights in Mora and San Miguel counties for oil and gas drilling. The rights were donated to the opera by a benefactor.

"We kept hearing this and that, so we thought we better look at the ordinance," Montoya said.
County commission chairman David Salazar said the county's present regulations are minimal when it comes to drilling and don't focus enough on safety — especially on the safety of the county's water supply.

"Water is one of the major things we have problems with," he said. "Any contamination would really hurt our county."

Montoya said having enough good water is an ongoing issue within the county. The city of Las Vegas, he said, has faced "very strict" water conservation ordinances for most of the last decade because its relies so heavily on surface runoff that hasn't been particularly plentiful.

"We have limited supplies at this point, and we need to do what's necessary to ensure the quality and quantity," he said." More>>>>

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rio Arriba County Special Use Permits to Drill for Oil and Gas

Rio Arriba County is not unfamiliar with oil and gas drilling. From the 1980's to 2008, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico had reportedly 7,597 oil and gas wells. In 2009, more than 400 additional wells have been or are intended to be drilled. In May 2009, Rio Arriba County adopted an oil and gas ordinance in regards to Approach Operating, LLC targeting the water-rich, fragile ecosystem of the Rio Chama Watershed for exploratory drillings (aka, "wildcatting"). Up to this time, the oil and gas drilling had primarily been the San Juan Basin portion of Rio Arriba County.

In addition, the County protested to the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission (OCC) 24 applications to drill (APDs) by Approach Operating , LLC. In July 2008, Governor Richardson directed the OCD to draft special rules for oil and gas drilling in certain areas of Rio Arriba County (i.e., Tierra Amarilla and portions of the Rio Chama Watershed). This did not occur. Subsequently, Approach Operating, LLC sought dismissal of the case and the County agreed.

Presently, the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) has approved eight APDs and Rio Arriba County Planning and Zoning Committee has recommended for approval three special use permits for five oil and gas wells in the Rio Chama Watershed of Rio Arriba County. On December 29, 2009, the three County permits will go before the Rio Arriba Board of County Commissioners in Tierra Amarilla. The public meeting is scheduled to begin at 1:30pm:

Rio Arriba County:

For Contact, please go through the ESPANOLA OFFICE
1122 Industrial Park Rd
Espanola, NM 87532
Phone: (505) 753-7774
Fax: (505) 753-4732

The meeting will be held at the TA OFFICE:

PO Box 127
Tierra Amarilla, NM 87575
Phone: (575) 588-7254
Fax: (575) 588-7810
Website: www.rio-arriba.org


Rio Arriba County Approach Operating, LLC Permits, Combined (3 permits for 5 wells)>>>>

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Has Natural Gas's Moment Come?

Wall Street Journal



"The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts widening use of natural gas for power. In an outlook published Monday, the agency said natural gas will account for 46% of all power plant capacity additions from 2008 to 2035.

The abundance of gas is largely thanks to a new technique to unlock dense rock first tried successfully in the 1990s and early 2000s in the Barnett Shale under Fort Worth, Texas. Riding this success and fueled by cheap financing, energy companies fanned out across the U.S. in search of new fields.

What they found has fundamentally reshaped the industry's understanding of how much gas lay beneath the U.S. Huge new fields in Louisiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere could give the country a 100-year supply of gas, a sharp reversal from earlier predictions that the U.S. would begin relying heavily on gas imported from overseas. After years of decline, U.S. gas production shot up 12% from 2005 to 2008.

One of the most unexpected signs of the growing comfort that gas is becoming a more stable commodity are the negotiations between producers and consumers over long-term contracts for gas supplies.

Larry Nichols, chairman and CEO of gas-producer Devon Energy Corp., said that in the past, companies were forced to search for new gas each year, making long-term contracts impractical. But the recent shale discoveries are different—they are huge and extremely reliable, meaning they can reliably strike multi-year commitments to provide gas. Devon, for example, has drilled 4,000 wells in the Barnett Shale without a single dry hole, and still has thousands of places left in the field to drill.

"There's certainly the potential for the natural-gas producers and the utilities to develop a new relationship that has not been possible historically," Mr. Nichols said." Aritcle>>>>

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Exxon Deal May Be Green Light for Shale

"Others may have to follow its $30 billion purchase of XTO, a company that specializes in fracturing rock with water and sand to make natural gas flow"

By Jessica Resnick-Ault

"(Bloomberg) — Exxon Mobil's (XOM) $30 billion purchase of XTO Energy (XTO), the largest U.S. petroleum takeover since 2006, may signal a wave of acquisitions as major producers seek to tap growing gas and oil output from shale formations.

Irving, Texas-based Exxon announced its deal yesterday, saying it plans to make XTO, the largest natural-gas producer in the U.S., the centerpiece of its global expansion in shale developments. XTO is among companies that drove a surge in U.S. fuel output by exploiting so-called shale plays, where rock formations are fractured with water and sand to make gas flow.

Exxon's stamp of approval on shale plays may be a watershed, encouraging companies that have already made investments in the segment to expand their positions, said Ryan Cournoyer, head of energy trading at Lighthouse Financial Group LLC in New York. The largest U.S. energy company also will help stabilize gas prices, making it easier for buyers and sellers to come together on acquisition values, he said.

"Exxon Mobil acquiring XTO is going to put a floor on natural-gas prices longer term," Cournoyer said. "These guys are finally coming out and acknowledging that they need to grow their reserves longer term."

Likely buyers include major oil companies that are struggling to boost output, such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total (TOT), said Ted Harper of Frost Investment Advisors in Houston and Philip Weiss, an analyst at Argus Research Corp. in New York. They said takeover targets may include independent producers like Anadarko Petroleum Corp., EOG Resources (EOG), EnCana Corp., Ultra Petroleum (UPL), and Range Resources (RRC)." More>>>>

Monday, December 14, 2009

Underused Drilling Practices Could Avoid Pollution

"Asked why his company pursued "green" drilling and fracturing fluid innovations for drilling in the North Sea -- products that it now sometimes uses onshore too -- BJ Services' Dunlap was unequivocal: The law made him do it.

"It's because of local regulations," Dunlap said. "That's typically what drives us to develop and bring to market these environmentally friendly products."' Article>>>>

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica - December 14, 2009 12:00 am EST

Versions of this story were published in the Albany Times Union [1] and the Times Herald-Record [2].

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NM gas producers file complaint over rates

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN - Associated Press Writer - Associated Press

Friday, December 11, 2009

"A coalition of natural gas producers has filed a complaint with New Mexico regulators alleging that a Houston-based pipeline company is charging excessive rates for transportation services in one of the nation's largest natural gas basins.

The coalition argues that Enterprise Field Services LLP has increased its gathering rates in the San Juan Basin by 240 percent over the last several years and that New Mexico stands to lose nearly $440 million in direct tax and royalty revenues over the next 15 years as a result.

Gene Gallegos, a Santa Fe attorney representing the coalition, said Friday that rate increases for gas gathering services result in direct cost increases for New Mexico gas producers and that, in turn, affects tax and royalty payments made to the state.

"What you deduct from the wellhead price reduces severance tax, it reduces royalties on state leases and it reduces our share of federal royalties. That's a lot of money, and it couldn't be a worse time," Gallegos said.

New Mexico is facing a potential budget gap of $500 million to $600 million next year, and the revenue outlook is grim as the economy continues to sputter."


And even though the New Mexico Oil and Gas associations have been fighting regulations, such as the New Mexico Oil Conservation Pit Rule, the article continues, "Gallegos said the case could set precedent nationwide since fees charged by gas gathering companies go largely unregulated.

Federal jurisdiction starts with interstate pipelines at the outlet of processing plants. Everything between the wells and the processing plants is left up to states.

Gallegos said no one has complained about the lack of regulation until now. He explained that fees had held steady for decades until Enterprise purchased the basin's gathering system and raised rates four times in the last five years." More>>>>

Friday, December 11, 2009

(KSFR) Santa Fe development plan going through changes (Podcast)

(KSFR) -
-- Santa Fe's overall land development plan apparently is undergoing changes. County officials tell KSFR's Marion Cox that a meeting scheduled for Dec. 17 will be postponed because parts of the plan are not finished, after all. Cox reports that the officials are removing three parts of the existing plan that was thought to be near final approval. They include the oil and gas component, the section on community plans, and the capital improvements portion. Cox says it's not clear whether those elements will be reinserted in whole or in part. Listen. © Copyright 2009, KSFR

Link to podcast>>>>

(San Miguel) County moves toward oil and gas moratorium

Las Vegas Optic

By David Giuliani

"The San Miguel County Commission has taken its first step toward setting a year-long moratorium on oil and gas drilling permits while it enacts new regulations.

On Tuesday, the commission voted unanimously to publish the proposed moratorium and seek public comment.

As it stands, the county has about a half page of regulations for oil and gas regulations. That’s from a land-use ordinance in 1986 that’s about an inch thick.

County officials say they want a more detailed ordinance specific to oil and gas drilling. This is after oil and gas companies have taken steps toward drilling in Santa Fe and Mora counties.

No requests for permits for oil and gas drilling are pending before San Miguel County.

County Attorney Jesus Lopez said the current ordinance “very summarily and very scantily” addresses the issue of oil and gas permits, including the effects on water availability, the terrain and the environment.

“You don’t have an ordinance that adequately protects the health and safety of the people,” he said. “This is an issue of great concern, as it should be.”

Lopez said the county manager will have a year to get input and expert opinions and compile studies as he works to draft an ordinance. But he said it may well take longer than that.

Commission Chairman David Salazar said he understood that State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons has already leased out lands around the county for oil and gas drilling. He wondered if state lands fall under the county government’s jurisdiction.

Lopez said the moratorium would apply.

“Any authority given to the State Land Office is still subject to local regulatory authority,” the attorney said.

The commission is slated to vote on the moratorium Jan. 12." More>>>>

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NM agency leader leaving for conservation job

"SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The secretary of the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department is leaving Gov. Bill Richardson's administration for a job with a conservation organization.

Joanna Prukop is retiring at the end of the month and will become director of business for wildlife with a group called Freedom to Roam. It's a coalition of businesses and conservation groups that wants to protect wildlife corridors that allow animals to move from place to place.

Richardson announced Wednesday that Jon Goldstein will replace Prukop. Goldstein has served as deputy secretary in the Environment Department since 2007.

Prukop worked for the state Game and Fish Department for 26 years before joining the Richardson administration in 2003 as a cabinet-level agency secretary." Link>>>>

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NM oil and gas agency warns of fewer inspections

"ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- The New Mexico Oil Conservation Division says it will have to reduce its routine field inspections by 66 percent this year as the state grapples with a budget shortfall.

Division officials have told legislators that fewer inspections could place the environment and groundwater resources at risk and that processing new drilling applications could be delayed.

The Oil Conservation Division regulates the oil, natural gas and geothermal industries in New Mexico. It's also responsible for preventing contamination from oil and gas operations and reclaiming past environmental damage.

Division director Mark Fesmire says he's down seven inspectors and looming budget cuts will make it impossible to fill those positions.

Fesmire says the priority will be to process new drilling applications while making sure environmental regulations are followed."

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.


Monday, December 7, 2009


An interesting development in San Miguel County after oil and gas minerals have been leased in San Miguel and Mora Counties, including by the Santa Fe Opera:

On the San Miguel County New Mexico Board of County Commissioners meeting, December 8, 2009:


Background Information: At its October meeting, the County Commission directed staff to begin work on a moratorium relating to oil and gas exploration in the county. The Commission expressed concern that the County exists regulations in this area were very out-dated and needed to be revised and up-dated, and that during the revision and amendment process, a moratorium should be imposed. Following that direction, county staff proposes a Resolution allowing the Commission to consider at its January 2010 meeting, a moratorium ordinance.

Action Requested of the Commission: Adopt SMC RESOLUTION NO. 12-08-09-OIL&GAS, proposing the adoption of a moratorium ordinance for oil and gas exploration.

Staff Recommendations: Same as Action Requested, noted above.
Presenter: County Manager Les Montoya and County Attorney Jesus L. Lopez." Full Agenda>>>>

Friday, December 4, 2009

Big Oil's the Boogeyman in 'Split'

Albuquerque Journal North

Decembern 4, 2009

By Phil Parker

Of the Journal

'“Split Estate” presents a heartbreaking pastiche of physical and emotional woes wrought by the centuries-old law that enables energy companies to put drilling wells on the property of private landowners, so long as the companies hold rights to the minerals under the surface (they almost always do).

Just because you own your house or ranch, essentially, that doesn't mean you can keep Big Oil and Gas from having at what's underneath. And their process of extraction is invasive.

The film is timely and concise, and Santa Fe filmmaker Debra Anderson strikes a sweet balance between educating on the issue and tugging at our tear ducts. She interviews a toxicologist and a Ph.D. environmental analyst who explain plainly why chemicals used in drilling can be like poison for nearby landowners. She interviews flabbergasted men and women who have had, at least, their land violated by lawful drilling and, at worst, their health deteriorate dramatically because of that drilling.

Environmentalists will love the film.

Bob Gallagher hates it."

More (Subscription required, paid or free pass to the Journal North)>>>>

SPLIT ESTATE at Santa Fe Film Festival

Time: December 5, 2009 from 5:45pm to 7:45pm
Location: New Mexico History Museum
Street: 113 Lincoln Avenue
City/Town: SANTA FE
Website or Map: http://santafe.bside.com/20...
Phone: 505.988.7414
Event Type: film, screening
Organized By: Aaron Leventman, Bioneers

For flyer, click here>>>>

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NM report says transmission key to renewable power

This is an issue to keep an eye on:

Washington Post

The Associated Press

Wednesday, December 2, 2009; 10:11 AM

"SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico has huge potential to produce electricity from renewable sources but a small window to develop transmission lines to deliver that power to customers, a lawmaker said Tuesday after listening to a report on the issue.

The state Renewable Energy Transmission Authority presented its first statewide transmission report to an interim legislative committee. It covers everything from existing transmission lines, barriers to building additional lines and hot spots for electricity generation using wind, solar radiation and geothermal sources.

"The issue is transmission. If we don't have any more transmission, there will be no more renewable projects in the state of New Mexico and that is critical for our future. It's a multibillion-dollar opportunity," said Rep. Jose Campos, D-Santa Rosa.

The state will lose out to other states if it doesn't do something in the next three to four years, he said." More>>>>