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Albuquerque Town Hall Scheduled to Discuss Oil and Gas Drilling

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by Jason B. Brinkley

For the second year in a row, New Mexico has surpassed its previous record for oil and gas production. The uptick in operations means increased jobs, a boost to the state’s economy and the availability of additional funds for the state’s budget. Growth in the oil and gas industry is expected to continue into the coming year with major operators, along with midstream energy companies, making significant investments in the state’s Permian Basin.

With this surge in oil and gas production, however, comes increased interest from regulators into how exploration and development will be conducted in the future. To this end, Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis and Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins are sponsoring a town hall meeting to engage local community members on issues associated with oil and gas development. Specifically, the two lawmakers wish to discuss whether an ordinance governing drilling is needed for the Albuquerque area.

Whatever the outcome of the discussion at the town hall meeting, any ordinance regarding oil and gas operations in the Albuquerque area would likely have little impact at this time. The vast majority of oil and gas development in New Mexico takes place in the San Juan Basin, in the northwest part of the state, and the Permian Basin, in the southeast part of the state. Both basins are at least 60 miles away from Albuquerque.

Notwithstanding potential new regulations in Albuquerque, the overall picture for oil and gas operations in New Mexico remains positive. Production has helped New Mexico’s economy recover from a serious deficit and has contributed to the state’s $330 million dollar budget surplus. If the price of oil continues to hold steady in its current range, the benefits to New Mexico, and to operators who produce there, appear to be on strong footing for the foreseeable future.