In the crosshairs of failure

September 16, 2018

After 43 years in domestic U.S. and international oil and gas exploration and production, yes, New Mexico is seeing a boom in oil and gas revenue from hydraulic fracturing (“And now, the boom,” Aug. 23). But what most oil and gas people refuse to talk about in public is the fact oil and gas exploration and production are in the retirement days of existence.

Oil and gas exploration and production has a three-legged, triad base. First came conventional-style prospects that were easier to explore for and produce. The second were “tight reservoirs,” a rung-up-the-ladder of difficulty. The final supporting leg are the “fracking” of hydrocarbon-source rock, which is today referred to as hydraulic fracturing. The first and second legs are about finished around the world and in New Mexico.

Readers should keep in mind that the hydraulically fractured wells come on strong but drop dramatically in a year’s time, not like the old conventional and tight wells that lasted for decades. There are geologists and engineers who will disagree, but they protect their own employment and professional organizations.

I have lived around the world and seen some incredibly dumb decisions by national and local politicians when handled a windfall of money, like from an “oil boom.” The state of New Mexico should build up the state Investment Council permanent funds from the existing $20 billion-plus and invest in better quality education at all levels.

There is a day of reckoning coming for the oil industry, and New Mexico is squarely in the crosshairs of failure. And when it fails, it will be like the dinosaurs disappearing from the face of the Earth.

David Stoudt lives in Santa Fe.

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