The New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission has taken back a decision it made last month to approve a plan allowing for a Texas company to increase its number of producing wells in San Juan County.
In response to criticism that the plan proposed by the Houston-based Hilcorp Energy Company was environmentally damaging, the commission announced it would hold another hearing on the matter in May to take a second look at the project.
Gabriel Wade, just appointed as the new chairman of the commission, said a new hearing would allow for greater public comment, as well as providing a full review by Oil Conservation Division officials.
Wade said his decision was animated by a desire to protect the environment, as well as trying to eliminate wasted resources.
A new hearing is also expected to solicit the views of area Native American tribes, in particular the Jicarilla Apache Nation, a developer of natural gas.
Hilcorp officials have said that the company’s original application for the project was based on solid scientific and legal principles.
An attorney representing the company attacked the commission for reversing its December decision and questioned whether Wade had the necessary engineering education background to rule on complicated gas and oil development projects.
Justin Furnace, a spokesman for Hilcorp, told the Farmington Daily Times that the commission’s original decision “was based on a careful review of the facts and grounded in law.”
Furnace added that the ultimate goal of Hilcorp, one of the largest exploration and production companies in the country, is to “Increase its investment in the San Juan Basin and in its communities by improving existing infrastructure and increasing local production.”
The commission’s decision to revisit Holcomb’s application came after Stephanie Garcia Richard, New Mexico’s State Land Commissioner, noted concerns over the project, remarking, “It is imperative that we make a decision in the region that ensures long-term sustainability and production that is fair to every producer in the state.”
By Garry Boulard
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