New Mexico Aims to Channel Fracking Wastewater to Production

New Mexico has unveiled its plan at the Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai to channel wastewater from the oil and gas industry to fuel water-intensive clean energy ventures such as electric vehicles (EV) and solar production.

Behind Texas, New Mexico is the US’s second-largest crude and gas producer, bringing significant water during operations, which is mainly returned underground.

Directing specific amounts of water to production could reduce the strain on the arid state’s diminishing water stocks and ease its reinjection wells, which risk causing human-induced earthquakes.

In an interview, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said they were initiating the groundbreaking program at the climate discussions to encourage other nations facing similar challenges.

The state also plans to invest $500 million in treated drilling wastewater and brackish water from underground sources to set up a strategic water supply. Additionally, New Mexico intends to start exploring deals in 2024.

Lujan Grisham noted the possibility of treating brackish underground water for public use and the suitability of drillers’ manufactured water for producing clean energy.

The manufacturing industry, including clean energy, heavily relies on water, often as a product ingredient, chemical process, or cooling equipment.

The governor expects the program to help New Mexico generate interest among new clean energy manufacturing businesses.

According to the governor’s office, the state’s drillers in 2022 produced 2 billion barrels of water, of which 1.2 billion were reinjected.

New Mexico has seen its water supplies dwindle due to droughts stemming from climate changes.

Albuquerque, for instance, encountered its first Rio Grande dry-up in 40 years in August 2022, and it is expected to see a 25% statewide water reduction.

Lujan Grisham has announced New Mexico’s plan to provide extended contracts to prospective water sellers, who would need to use the finest technologies for water purification.

New Mexico’s Governor Eyes $500M for Buying Treated Water

Governor Lujan Grisham plans to establish water standards and buy treated water orientating from oil fields and New Mexico’s natural underground brine reservoirs, with the initiative still subject to legislative approval.

The goal is to establish a government-backed market for treated water, urging private firms to develop desalinization and treatment plants, thereby ensuring new water sources for industrial use.

The administration aims to have the water accessible to various businesses, from microchip makers to hydrogen fuel manufacturers that break up the elements and water in an energy-intensive process.

Lujan Grisham would attempt to secure $500 million from the Legislature to fund the acquisition of treated water.

The plan would combine New Mexicos’s bonding authority and financial reserves kept in its multibillion-dollar Severance Tax Permanent Fund. Founded in the 1970s, the trust is supported by taxes on extracting oil, natural gas, and other minerals from the state.

Lujan Grisham said the objective is to avert a reckoning on water supplies as the Rio Grande and underground freshwater aquifers diminished. New Mexico also has broad underground saltwater reservoirs that have offered limited use cases.

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