Innovative companies can turn O&G produced water into a great resource

Albuquerque Journal By Mike Dyson, CEO, Infinity Water Solutions and Dr. Zacariah Hildenbrand, Chief Scientific Officer, Infinity Water Solutions

On June 6, the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County hosted its annual EnergyPlex Conference and we had the good fortune of attending.

As the name would suggest, the topics centered on the development of the oil and gas industry, the growth of ancillary businesses to support the sector, and the tremendous opportunities it brings to the great state of New Mexico.

In attendance were elected leaders from across the state, policy gurus, mid and large business executives and employees, environmentalists, innovators, small business owners, ranchers, farmers, and even students – in short, a healthy representation of the entire state.

What resonated the most? New Mexico and her people sit on the precipice of an economic renaissance.

The New Mexico Government Accountability Office recently noted that as much as 50% of the state’s annual tax revenues is directly derived from the oil and gas industry, much of which occurs in the Northern Delaware Basin of Eddy and Lea counties.

Daily, more than 1 million barrels of oil are produced and shipped globally, making it the second-most prolific oil producing state in the nation. With access to affordable energy so closely linked to economic development, it’s no exaggeration to say the Land of Enchantment powers human prosperity across the world.

It’s widely known that the energy sector is a water-intensive industry. Less realized, though, is the tremendous volume of water generated during the production process. Water, so deep, we would otherwise not see it for millions of years and at quantities so vast they far exceed any amount of oil produced.

Historically, this produced water has been treated as a byproduct, disposed of via miles-deep injection wells – an effort now widely linked to seismic activity. Today, companies are innovating, evolving rapidly to turn a wastewater stream into a resource. And not just any resource, but a self-sustaining, opportunity-rich resource.

Water is central to everything we do. It is the lifeblood of planetary health and civilization, and it is the factor most directly correlated to economic growth and prosperity. The technology to treat oil and gas wastewater safely and responsibly exists. The science is there. Manufacturing water products for a host of uses is no longer theoretical, but practical. Millions of barrels of wastewater are being reclaimed and repurposed daily, but there is so much more that could be done.

Economic diversification is critical to safeguarding the future of New Mexico. Diversifying interests, however, is not about abandoning one industry for another, but instead reducing risk and volatility by investing in a variety of activities. New Mexico’s opportunity for economic security rests on its ability to build a blue economy; a renaissance driven by water.

Whether it is solar-powered server farms, the production of batteries and EVs, or even a pipeline to a landlocked regional neighbor, the future of New Mexico is limited only by the information, imagination and desire of its people. The Land of Enchantment can also be The Land of Opportunity so long as we brave this new world, together.

Read the article on the Albuquerque Journal here.