The Atrisco Land Grant, from its beginning in 1703, used its lands for grazing. The first commercial development at Atrisco began on March 20, 1920, when David J. Metzgar, president of the Atrisco Board of Trustees, signed the first lease to an outside interest for the exploration and development of oil and gas. Oil and gas leasing would continue sporadically.
From 1925 to 1947, C.H. Conner held oil and gas leases in multi-year increments, and Myrtle Conner (probably his wife) held leases into the 1950s. In 1955, the board of trustees granted permits to Armando Gianini to prospect for uranium and to Samuel Jelso to explore for oil and gas.
In 1972 Westland Development Corp., created from the land grant in 1967, leased land to Shell Oil Co. for oil and gas exploration and renewed it for five years in 1975.
Interest in exploration re-emerged in 2006, when Tecton Energy LLC, a Houston company took assignment of two leased parcels held by Westland with Sun Valley Energy and Great Northern Energy. Later the same year, SunCal Companies, of Irvine, Calif., acquired Westland. In this transaction, the buyers agreed to terms related to the mineral rights whereby 100% of the mineral interest rights to previous established leases would remain with Atrisco Oil & Gas and subsequent oil and gas contracts related to the remaining unleased acreage at the time of the real estate sale would be shared equally at 50% between Atrisco and SunCal. The Westland board decided to create a for-profit corporation for oil and gas proceeds; income would be paid to the new unitholders of Atrisco Oil and Gas.
Subsequently, Westland formed a separate company, Atrisco Oil & Gas LLC, to own and manage the two leases with Tecton and any future leases on former Atrisco lands. Atrisco Oil and Gas also has certain rights to drill.
Westland shareholders received a share of Atrisco Oil & Gas for each share of their Westland stock. The company is governed by a board of five directors.
In order to determine if the lands hold commercial quantities of natural gas, Atrisco Oil & Gas on August 27, 2007 leased 50,000 acres to Tecton Energy. The latest agreement gives Tecton control of oil and gas leases on all of the former Westland property, totaling more than 55,000 acres.
Tecton has drilled one well to 7,900 feet and is now studying the results. Tecton will drill at least two new wells in the first year of the new lease. The contract also requires the company to create jobs for Atrisco Land Grant heirs, develop training programs and provide financial support for the Atrisco Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit created at the same time as Atrisco Oil & Gas to preserve Atrisco culture. To date Tecton has donated $5,000 to the foundation.