New Mexico could risk $10B in failing to plug unused oil and gas wells

  • New Mexico’s abandoned oil and gas wells could risk billions in taxpayer dollars.
  • Fossil fuel industry supported amended bonding rates in 2018.
  • Calls continue for regulators to demand more money from oil and gas companies to pay for cleanup.

Abandoned oil and gas wells in New Mexico could mean billions in financial liability for the state’s taxpayers, per a recent study.

Published by New York-based Carbon Tracker Initiative, the study analyzed unproductive but unplugged wells in New Mexico, determining the amount of financial liability the issue posed to the state.

Thirteen oil-producing states were included in the study which showed New Mexico had about $10.6 billion in financial risk stemming from 73,750 unplugged wells.

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That ranked New Mexico fifth among the states studied in financial risk, behind $12.2 billion in Pennsylvania, $12.5 billion in Ohio, $31.4 billion in Oklahoma and $96.6 billion in Texas.

The study showed 23 percent of New Mexico’s unplugged wells were producing as the data was published on Thursday, tying for fourth with Colorado and behind Wyoming at 32 percent and North Dakota and Alaska with tied for first with 47 percent of wells producing.