Proposal will be heard during Nov. 19 meeting in Santa Fe

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AZTEC — San Juan County is backing the Hilcorp Energy Company as the firm attempts to get the well-density rule for the Blanco-Mesaverde gas pool changed.

Hilcorp has applied to the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission to increase the density requirement from four to eight wells for every 320 acres in San Juan and Rio Arriba counties.

The Oil Conservation Commission is having a special hearing at 9 a.m. Nov. 19 in Santa Fe to hear arguments for and against changing the well-density rule.

On Thursday, the San Juan County Commission unanimously passed a resolution voicing its support for the change.

County operations officer Mike Stark told the commission Hilcorp and other producers in the area are interested in using existing wells that have been producing from the Dakota pool and changing those wells so they produce from the Blanco-Mesaverde pool. The Blanco-Mesaverde pool is located closer to the surface than the Dakota pool.

“This would allow for existing wells to be used for simultaneous development of resources from all four pools,” Stark said.

Hilcorp has applied for exemptions to the well-density rule about 70 times this year and has received the exemption on every occasion.

Stark said Hilcorp is not proposing drilling new wells, which are not economical because it costs about $5 million to drill.

At the end of the meeting, Aztec Mayor Victor Snover expressed his opposition to the rule change.

While he said he was speaking as a private citizen, Snover referenced his elected position and recent applications Hilcorp has submitted to the city of Aztec to re-enter existing wells.

“We have hundreds of wells within the city of Aztec,” Snover said.

He expressed concern that additional oil and gas development could impact archaeological sites like Aztec Ruins National Park. Snover also said the development comes with a potential for environmental pollution.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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