New Mexico Land Office diversifies ahead of decline in oil and gas

Oil and gas was a precious commodity in New Mexico for decades, generating billions of dollars in revenue for the state each year.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of fossil fuels to New Mexico remained unchanged as the State Land Office reported continued high levels of production and revenue from extraction on state land.  

Land continued to be leased to operators in monthly sales as operations focused on the Permian Basin region to the southeast.

But New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard said the resource was “finite” and would run out eventually.

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New Mexico State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard meets with oil workers at an XTO site, Dec. 4, 2018 in Carlsbad.

To her, that meant New Mexico’s economy and use of its State-owned public land needed to diversify.

Garcia Richard said oil and gas leasing of State Trust land recently began to use up most of the “choice” or ideal tracts of land over the best geological formations in the basin which is known as one of the world’s most prolific resources for fossil fuel development.