Report: Four Oil And Gas Spills A Day In New Mexico

May 5, 2016

Oil and gas wells, like these in northwestern New Mexico, are often remote and widespread. As highlighted in the new report, in New Mexico there is only one inspector per 4,285 wells.
Credit Laura Paskus

Everyone’s heard how oil and gas production dropped in New Mexico last year. Low prices hit industry – and the state’s budget – hard.

During that same time, the state saw a bump in the number of oil and gas spills. That’s according to a new report from the Center for Western Priorities, which crunches data from the state's Oil Conservation Division

Statewide, there were 1,477 spills. That works out to an average of four spills each day of crude oil, methane gas, liquid natural gas – and most commonly, industry wastewater.

The numbers are up five percent from 2014, and represent an 87 percent increase from 2011.

According to the report, most spills happened because of equipment failure. Corrosion, human error, and lightning strikes also caused accidents.

Southeastern New Mexico had the most spills: According to the report, 80 percent occurred in Lea and Eddy counties.

To read the 2015 New Mexico Oil and Gas Toxic Release Tracker, visit here.