Image Description

Environmental Handbook - Introduction

The New Mexico Oil Conservation Division (OCD) administers several wide-ranging water quality protection programs. These programs are overseen by the OCD Environmental Bureau. Attachment I is a program summary which provided an overview of the OCD's environmental program.

Oil and gas activities are regulated under the New Mexico Oil and Gas Act, the Geothermal Resources Act, and the Water Quality Act as delegated to the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC).

The New Mexico Oil and Gas Act (70-2-1 through 70-2-38, NMSA 1978) created the Oil Conservation Commission (OCC) in 1935. At that time, the OCC was responsible for prevention of waste and to protect correlative rights, but did not specifically address fresh water protection. In 1961 the Act was amended to allow the Division to make rules providing for fresh water protection from improper disposal of drilling or production waters. Exploration and production wastes are covered exclusively under Oil and Gas Act authorized rules and orders.

The New Mexico Water Quality Act (74-6-1 through 74-6-13, NMSA 1978) provides the statutory authority for OCD environmental regulation of major facilities through the review and approval of ground water discharge plans. Facilities regulated include oil refineries, natural gas processing plants, gas compressor stations, oil field service companies and brine production operations. The Water Quality Act set up the WQCC with OCD as a member, to prevent water pollution by adopting regulations to control discharges to surface or ground waters. Federal delegation of the EPA Underground Injection Control Program is to the WQCC (Class I, III, IV and V) and the OCD (Class II wells).

The Geothermal Resources Act (71-5-1 through 71-5-24, NMSA 1978) adopted regulations similar to those of the Oil and Gas Act. Unlike the Oil and Gas Act, the Geothermal Resource Act has a clause allowing concurrent jurisdiction with other state agencies having regulatory jurisdiction. Storage and disposal for geothermal fluids are regulated under WQCC authority, while drilling and production operations fall under the jurisdiction of OCC Regulations and Orders.

Amendments to the Oil and Gas Act (Chapter 70-Pamphlet III-1989 Cumulative Supplement, NMSA 1978 annotated) passed in 1989 specifically authorized OCD to regulated disposal of non-hazardous wastes from oil and gas exploration, production, refining, crude oil transportation and storage, and the oil field service industry.

OCD Function Chart

Categories and Disposal Methods for Oil Field Wastes

New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department | Copyright
1220 South St. Francis Drive | Santa Fe, NM 87505
Webmaster   |   EMNRD Legal Disclaimer