Recent data has shown that New Mexico has a new oil production leader. Lea County has traditionally held the title but Eddy County has taken the spot as the main producer. According to data from New Mexico’s Oil Conservation Division, the new champ produced 51.5 million barrels of oil in 2013 while the former produced 42.4 million.
“It’s a privilege to have claimed that spot because it helps us continue to get taxes to help us keep running,” said Chairman Tony Hernandez, Eddy County Commission Chairman.
Eddy County has made gains on Lea County in recent years, and actually surpassed it in 2012. The main factors that have contributed to that trend are advanced drilling and fracking methods along with underground formations in Eddy County making those techniques more effective, according to New Mexico Oil and Gas Association spokesman Wally Drangmeister.
“I think it has to do with the high percentage of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking that is done in the county,” he said.
In the near future, it is likely that Eddy County will continue to widen its gap. It currently has 51 active wells while Lea has just 31.
Perhaps not surprisingly, increased oil production and revenue is having a positive impact on the economy as a whole. Hernandez said that new businesses in the industry have been showing up in the area and bringing jobs to the county. But despite this being a good thing in the long run, business owners in the region have expressed some concerns.
“There is a con to being the top oil producer,” writes Kim Vallez. “It creates more jobs, but that also brings more people and right now residents in Carlsbad and Eddy County are concerned about housing availability,” writes Kim Vallez.
“Whoever gets ahead of the housing issues might be able to get ahead of the production,” said Drangmeister.
Other questions, including infrastructure and road safety are also hot topics. But, for now, it is relatively safe to assume that the county is happy with the new title as New Mexico’s top oil producer.