CARLSBAD, NM, July 2015 - The results are in and the “oil and natural gas capitol” of the entire Permian Basin is Eddy County in southeastern New Mexico. According to a new study published today by the Carlsbad Department of Development, New Mexico’s Eddy County leads in oil and natural gas production across the entire Permian basin.
“We reviewed data from the Texas and New Mexico governmental agencies that oversee drilling and production for their respective states,” said John Waters, the Executive Director for the Carlsbad Department of Development, a non-profit, economic development agency serving the region. “We always were aware that our natural gas production regularly outpaced all of the other 28 counties in the Permian Basin (see fig. 1),” Waters continued, “what we discovered was that since overtaking Lea County in oil production in 2012, Eddy County has remained the undisputed leader in the Permian basin for the last three years in that category (see fig. 2).”
The New Mexico Oil Conservation Division and the Texas Railroad Commission track and publish production data for their respective states. In 2014, the latest full calendar year reported, Eddy leads in oil production and is followed respectively by neighboring Lea County in New Mexico, then Andrews, Upton, and Martin Counties in Texas. On the natural gas side, Eddy County leads Lea County then Upton, Pecos, and Crockett Counties in Texas.
New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Cabinet Secretary David Martin said in a presentation in Carlsbad last year, “It's an unbelievable place," stating that Eddy and Lea counties are the leading sector in the state's economy. "These are exciting times. Since the 1980s, the industry has gone through boom and bust periods, but the reserves yet to be tapped will allow the drilling activities to continue for a long time."
At an event in northern New Mexico in March, Martin also confirmed that despite the drop in prices, the production in New Mexico is still strong stating, “so far we haven’t seen a decrease in oil production in New Mexico.”
“The Oil and Gas industry has completely changed the life of Eddy County,” noted Eddy County Commission Chairman Susan Crockett, who is very positive on the economic outlook for the county and its constituents. “The increased economy has allowed Eddy County to focus on growth and economic development. Many small companies have grown into major companies, employing over 100 people.”
The increased production in oil and gas, coupled with the expansion of the potash mining industry and nuclear industry in Eddy County have added new challenges to the area, notably shortages in housing and available workers. This is despite Carlsbad being the fastest growing NM community in 2013 according to the US Census Bureau. The dynamics have changed so rapidly, the City of Carlsbad noted that, based on domestic and commercial water use, their population is now estimated to be over 71,500 within the 20-minute service area.
“The Greater Carlsbad Area is definitely growing!” stated Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway in a July 10, 2015 letter to his constituents in the Carlsbad Current-Argus. “We're comfortable saying that we have around 71,500 people taking showers or drinking glasses of water in or near Carlsbad on a daily basis. That includes permanent residents and temporary residents in hotel rooms or man camps.”
“Given the "boom" we have experienced during the last 5 years, Eddy County has learned to always expect and embrace the unexpected,” Crockett added. “Without risk, there will be no reward and Eddy County has proven that we are willing to take a risk,” recognizing that growth of this magnitude has created challenges that needed to be overcome to continue to prosper and grow.