NM project to reuse oil and gas waste water in growing crops moves forward



Plans are moving ahead for a southeast New Mexico operation to treat oil and gas waste water from the Permian Basin drilling activities to be reused to water crops in the region.

A Wyoming environmental company is behind the effort in Lea County and working with Hungry Horse Environmental Services based in Hobbs, New Mexico.  Hungry Horse already provides environmental remediation services to the oil and gas industry and obtained a license with Wyoming’s Encore  Green Environmental to develop technology to allow produced water from extraction operations to be cleaned and reused in farming.

Hungry Horse would provide the land for the project, in the heart of southeast New Mexico’s Permian Basin oilfield, while Encore Green developed the technology according to the Carlsbad Current Argus newspaper.

Produced water, often viewed as waste created by oil and gas operations, is brought up from underground shale with crude oil and natural gas.

It often outnumbers the oil extracted, with up to 10 barrels of water produced per barrel of oil – about 42 gallons – and is often laden with toxic heavy metals and chemicals.

Supporters of the idea of reuse outside of oil and gas called the underground water source an opportunity to address New Mexico’s water scarcity, while others said the water was a waste product and using it outside of oil and gas operations could threaten the environment.

Last year, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced an initiative that would see the State and New Mexico State University form a consortium to research reuse possibilities for produced water outside of the industry.

Many oil and gas companies already treat and reuse produced water within fracking operations, but Lujan Grisham hoped to expand the use of the water in water-scarce New Mexico.

“Turning this waste product into a commodity is good for preserving fresh water resources, good for compact requirements with other states, good for conservation purposes, good for local and county governments; it’s good for small and large producers, it’s good for agriculture,” she said in announcing the consortium in September.

“It’s good for New Mexico, and it represents an exciting leap forward.”

Hungry Horse Managing Member John Norris said the companies intend to work with New Mexico’s consortium, already preparing licensure as the research continued to set regulation on how produced water could be reused.

“Our goal is to get ready to put our produced water to good use once the Consortium announces the parameters,” Norris said. “Why wait until then to start figuring out the next step? We are licensing the ‘Conservation By-Design’ system to give our arid land the water it needs and to help the energy industry meet their ESG (environmental, social and governance) goals.”

Source: Carlsbad Current Argus