No Natural Gas, Yet

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06/12/2008By Sean Olson, Journal Staff Writer

Printed from ABQjournal.com, a service of the Albuquerque Journal
URL: http://www.abqjournal.com/west/310894west_news06-12-08.htm

Thursday, June 12, 2008

No Natural Gas, Yet

By Sean Olson – Journal Staff Writer

It’s been nearly a year since Tecton Energy began its natural gas drilling in the West Mesa.

So far, no luck.

“(Tecton) believes there is natural gas out there … The question is locating it and bringing it to the surface,” Peter Sanchez, Atrisco Oil and Gas CEO, said Wednesday.

One well, drilled to about 8,000 feet north of Interstate 40 on the west side of the property, has come up dry. But Tecton and Atrisco have high hopes for a second well to the northeast where indicators show a good probability of natural gas, Sanchez said.

Work will begin there by late summer.

Some are opposed to the drilling.

1Sky New Mexico, a nonprofit pro-environment group, sent out mailers to West Side residents calling for more solar and wind power, while criticizing “oil” drilling on the West Mesa.

Sanchez said the drilling is for natural gas, not oil.

John Fogerty, 1Sky executive director, said his group would like a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the area while more studies are done on the possibility of water contamination or adverse health effects, especially because wells are now being drilled closer to homes.

He said there probably would be a bigger outcry if more people knew about the drilling.

Sanchez said the concerns over drilling are unfounded.

“In 90-plus years of oil and gas drilling in New Mexico, there have been close to 100,000 wells drilled. Not a single drop of water delivered to a consumer has ever been polluted by oil and gas companies,” he said. “The emotional statements made by companies like 1Sky are in direct conflict with the facts.”

Tecton is leasing the roughly 57,000 acres to drill for natural gas from Atrisco Oil and Gas.

Atrisco was formed by SunCal Companies to manage mineral rights after the California land development company purchased the acreage for $250 million from the Atrisco land heirs.

The heirs split the mineral rights with SunCal, but continue to have sole rights to all the royalties for about 17,000 acres of the property leased for drilling before the sale.

Sanchez said the exploratory wells are positioned over a hill from any current or planned housing developments and will not affect views. He said they are small operations that leave almost no trace when finished.

“This whole concept of derricks— and we don’t even use derricks— next to houses is an impossibility,” Sanchez said.

The drilling should be finished within the next 10 years, he said.

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