Major natural gas discovery could have big impact on Northern New Mexico

FILE - In this June 25, 2012 file photo, a crew works on a gas drilling rig at a well site for shale based natural gas in Zelienople, Pa. The oil and gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," mobilizes thousands around the country both for and against the process, industry and some environmental. Hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and natural gas has not caused widespread harm to drinking water in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday in a draft report. The report found several specific instances where poorly constructed drilling wells and improper wastewater management affected drinking water resources. But it said the number of cases was small compared to the large number of wells that use hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. The controversial drilling technique could affect drinking water if safeguards are not maintained, the report said. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s being called the most significant natural gas discovery in the San Juan Basin in 14 years.

The recent discovery by BP in the Mancos Shale resulted in production rates not seen in some time.

Robert McEntyre with the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association believes this major development could have a significant impact on the state.

“It could mean additional drilling activity, it could mean additional exploration activity, it could generate significant new interest in the San Juan Basin,”  McEntyre said.

The majority of the oil and gas activity in the state takes place in the Permian Basin – that’s located in the southeastern portion of the state.

However, McEntyre thinks this could bring more companies to the Mancos Shale in the northern part of the state.

This could mean mega economic benefits to the area of San Juan and Rio Arriba counties as well as the entire state.

“We look at 50 to 100 jobs per drilling rig coming into the state, working on site. Those jobs are jobs in our community,” McEntyre said.

McEntyre adds that while market prices have remained low, the increase in nation-wide production has kept oil and gas producers optimistic.

The oil and gas industry makes up for one-third of the state’s budget.

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