Oil and gas rose to prominence in New Mexico when energy companies were able to tap into massive reservoirs of crude oil and natural gas thousands of feet beneath the Permian Basin and cities like Carlsbad.
The industry quickly began generating record-breaking revenue from the rural southeast corner of the state, providing funds for schools and other public services across the state.
Last year, data from the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) showed the industry contributed $2.8 billion to the state’s budget, even as the COVID-19 pandemic reduced fuel demand and production slowed.
2020’s revenue marked a slight dip from the year before, records show, as oil and gas produced about $3.1 billion for New Mexico in 2019.
But overall, the industry’s contributions to New Mexico grew consistently in the last decade from 2011’s total of $1.7 billion.
In the southeastern Permian Basin where most of the oil and gas is produced, the industry provided billions of dollars to the local economy and supported thousands of jobs.
Eddy County saw about $3.8 billion in overall contributions to its local economy, NMOGA reported, and about $1.3 billion in labor income for 16,572 jobs.
To the east, New Mexico’s other Permian Basin county saw similar contributions to its economy and job market, with Lea County receiving about $3.2 billion overall for its economy, $1.3 billion in labor income and 18,329 jobs supported by the industry, per NMOGA records.
Locally, the industry’s activities also meant more money for schools, bringing in millions in education dollars to New Mexico’s 33 counties.
Eddy County last year received about $38.6 million for schools, per NMOGA records, while neighboring Lea County got about $48.4 million.
Those dollars weren’t only provided to New Mexico’s lead oil-producing counties.
Metropolitan areas saw even bigger contributions to schools with Bernalillo County receiving $409.4 million in education funding from oil and gas, and Doña Ana County gaining $185.2 million.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said oil and gas’ importance, while significant in his city, went beyond local and state economics, supporting the national and global energy supply.
“Oil and gas isn’t just important to the future of Carlsbad, it is important to the future of the state and the country,” Janway said.
“We believe this industry will be a vital part of our community for a very long time, and fossil fuels will be a very important part of meeting our nation’s energy needs for a very long time as well. We’re very proud to have oil and gas be a part of what we do in Carlsbad.”
Janway also pointed to oil and gas workers in Carlsbad, recently honored by the city’s 2021 40 Under 40 class and at the annual Oil and Gas Summit in September which hosted its “Spirit of the Oilfield Awards” to commemorate workers in the industry that contributed to the community.
“There are thousands of Carlsbad families who put food on the table everyday thanks to the oil and gas industry,” Janway said. “As evidenced by the recent 40 under 40 list, as well as by our ‘Spirit of the Oilfield’ awards, there are so many outstanding individuals in this industry who have dedicated themselves to their profession and to the community.”
NMOGA spokesman Robert McEntyre said he expected Carlsbad to be an integral part of the oil and gas industry and the economies of New Mexico, the U.S. and the world for years to come.
“The oil and natural gas industry is New Mexico’s top economic and fiscal contributor, primarily because of the work happening in Carlsbad and Eddy County,” McEntyre said. “Safe, responsible development of New Mexico’s natural resources has provided students, families, and communities across our state with unprecedented opportunities and resources.”
“Producers, engineers, builders, and many more all work daily to protect the communities where they live and work while delivering the affordable, reliable energy we depend upon for daily life. Southeast New Mexico can be proud that its work benefits all New Mexicans and makes our state’s future shine brighter.”
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-618-7631, [email protected] or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.