But for Lea and Eddy Counties in New Mexico, where 65+% of all the rigs in the Permian Basin have been running for 18 months now, around the clock, the Permian would be looking like the Bakken did in 2019. Puny. Across the fence, in Texas, HZ tight oil production is already declining.
This IS the heart of the Permian Basin, Lea and Eddy Counties. So, whazzup with this big blank spot, above, flat in the middle of primo Wolfcamp and Bone Spring country?
In the interest of better foreign relations with Western Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, Asia and South America, all of whom are importing the snot out light, tight oil from the Permian Basin, I think it's important to explain...before there is an international incident over the matter. If my calculations are right there could be 5,900 more Wolfcamp wells drilled in this circle with the big fat question mark in it and at least that many more Bone Springs wells in numerous benches. That's a lot of grease going to waste. Or I should say, a lot of gas going to waste.
Well, this area is known as the Carlsbad Potash District. It contains almost 485,000 acres of land and 80% of that is controlled by the BLM. Oil and gas development can occur in the Carlsbad Potash District but there are, obviously, problems drilling wells into all these abandoned potash mines.
Before you get all bent out of shape about this and ask how in the hell is stinking potash more important that 44 degree API oil and flared gas with enough H2S in it to kill every jackrabbit within four miles... potash IS very important stuff. To the BLM, it's actually more important than Wolfcamp oil and every oil and gas lease request in this district is heavily scrutinized, and ultimately rejected.
Potash has lots of potassium in it, sorta like bananas, and it's vital to fertilizers and the growing of food and the raising of beef, etc. It makes KCL, which any oilfield hand worth spit knows about, is a key component in aluminum recycling, helps melt ice, makes steel harder, soap more bubbly, dogs healthier, cement better, paints brighter, bones stronger and....by God, even helps to make beer. So, that's that. Potash is important !
And the Carlsbad area has been known for its potash mining since the 1920's. Below is a VERY cool little video of the history of potash mining in the Permian Basin.
By the way, some old potash mines in Lea County contained the purest form of the mineral the world has ever known. New Mexico employs a little south of 1,ooo hands in the potash industry and it is a $750MM a year industry in Eddy County alone.
Potash mining in New Mexico
The entire region east of Carlsbad is laced with mines like the one you see above. It makes drilling through the stuff difficult as you are always losing returns right below conductor pipe that cottonseed hulls and other LCM can't seem to stop. A big horse outfit like Exxon could air drill these caverns to get their holes made, but then getting cement returns to surface is a bitch. Halliburton would love this stuff, but the Oil Conservation Commission in New Mexico, or whomever regulates oil, gas and water out there, likes to see cement to surface.
That big dense wad of wells to the far east, by the way, is south of Hobbs, on the Central Platform, and mostly shallow San Andreas wells.
Too bad this big blank hole in the middle of Wolfcamp country is not in Texas. The Texas Railroad Commission lets the tight oil sector do whatever the hell it wants. This big hole in the Wolfcamp would NOT exist in Texas. We are on a Mission From God down here, in Texas, yes sireee.
In Texas we send valuable groundwater sources TO New Mexico for frac source water, then we take the produced water back and inject here in Texas, so New Mexico doesn't have to, there. New Mexicans are actually concerned about running out of water, if you can imagine that ! and they don't seem to like earthquakes either. Weenies. In Texas we don't worry about any that crap; we'll keep cramming produced water into whatever zone will take it in the Permian and if Texas cracks in half along I-20 its no big deal.
New Mexico potash mine east of Carlsbad.