BROWN, KATHY M., New Mexico Oil Conservation Division, Santa Fe, NM
New Mexico ranked 4th among the states in production of natural gas and 7th in the production of crude oil in 1990. In New Mexico, the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) regulates the disposition of wastes generated by the exploration and production (E&P) of oil and natural gas. Responsibilities of the OCD include the establishment of policies, regulations, and guidelines for the handling and disposition of oilfield wastes. Tools used by the OCD for managing wastes include disposal permits under the N.M-. Oil and Gas Act, discharge plans for processing/service facilities under the N.M. Water Quality Act, and frequent on site inspections.
The OCD works with industry, environmental interest groups and the public to establish waste management policies which are both environmentally sensitive and cost effective. Waste minimization is stressed by the OCD through both a reduction in waste toxicity and recycling wastes streams to reduce waste volumes. The OCD emphasizes compliance through cooperation rather than confrontation. Industry is more willing to comply with rules and regulations based on good science and consistently applied to all operators. Requirements for specific end results are imposed on industry, but the method is determined by each company.
The regulatory waste management program in New Mexico administered by the OCD is a success. Industry has permitted disposal and recycling facilities to receive E&P generated wastes; most known groundwater contamination at regulated facilities is due to past practices not currently allowed under the discharge plan program; and there is a good working-relationship between the OCD, industry and the public.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90987©1993 AAPG Annual Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 25-28, 1993.