New Mexico Develops Playbook to Ensure O&G Produced-Water is Safe for Use in Ag

September 9th, 2020

While natural gas is a common byproduct of crude oil production many would be surprised to learn that for every (42 gallon) barrel of oil, four barrels of ‘produced water’ are generated. On its face this seems like a win-win for both O&G and the water starved Ag sector but there’s a catch: toxic chemicals. Left untreated, O&G produced water is not fit for use. Taking a step further, environmental groups maintain that the water should be considered as waste and no amount of treatment can make it safe for reuse outside the O&G industry.

After months of debate between regulators, environmental groups, and the O&G industry, the State of New Mexico has finalized changes to produced water regulations. While environmentalists are uneasy about known toxins in water byproduct generated by the O&G processes, it’s the unknown chemical which might be present in the water that keeps them up at night. Effective immediately, the new rules split responsibility of produced water within the O&G industry and the overseeing of future uses of the water outside of the industry to the Oil Conservation Division’s (OCD) and the New Mexico Environment Department, respectively.

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