Partly due to uncertain funding, work on a project designed to remediate a one-time massive operative brine well in Carlsbad halted last summer.
The well, located along U.S. Route 285, was closed more than a decade ago in the wake of fears that it might fall in on itself, creating in the process a massive sinkhole.
Estimates of the total cost for completely remediating the well run as high as $54 million.
But the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department is asking for $10 million for now from the New Mexico State Legislature just to re-start the work that stopped six months ago.
The Carlsbad Brine Well operated for three decades providing salt water that was used in oil well drilling. The brine was the byproduct of pumped fresh water used to dissolve below the surface salt layers.
But removal of the salt eventually led to the creation of an underground cavity increasingly at risk of collapse, a prospect that could, according to estimates, lead to a loss of life for those living or traveling near the well, not to mention an estimated more than $1 billion in litigation.
A new challenge with the project centers on a solar analysis revealing that a portion of the well is much larger than previously thought, requiring at least three time more material to fill it.
The two-month New Mexico 2021 state legislative session begins on January 19.
By Garry Boulard
Get stories like these right to your inbox.