2021 New Mexico Spills
Mar 30, 2022
New Mexico recorded a record number of liquid spills in 2021, as well as a record level of oil production. In New Mexico, liquid spills were up 40 percent in 2021, with 1,368 spills releasing over 4 million gallons of produced water, 657,720 gallons of oil, and 328,440 gallons of other liquid substances. New Mexico’s oil and gas regulators report the number of well inspections that occur each month, however that data has not been updated since January 2021. The vast majority of all 2021 spills and methane waste—98 percent—occurred in Eddy and Lea counties.
Oil production in 2021 was up 32 percent compared to its pre-pandemic 2019 level in New Mexico, and there were around 20 percent more spills in 2021 than in 2019, indicating possible progress in decreasing the rate of spills per barrel of oil produced in New Mexico. However, the level of methane gas produced in New Mexico jumped 25 percent from 2019 to 2021.
Notably, New Mexico changed reporting requirements for methane waste in May 2021, requiring producers to report all flaring and venting. There were 12,005 incidents of flaring and 1,211 incidents venting. Over 5 billion cubic feet of methane was flared, while 281 million cubic feet of methane was vented. (Because of changes in reporting requirements, we are unable to calculate a year-over-year comparison for methane releases.)