Programs & Services

Search EMNRD

What is the Carlsbad Brine Well?

The Carlsbad Brine Well is located within the Carlsbad city limits, south of the intersection of U.S. Highway 285 (South Canal Street) and 180/62 (National Parks Highway). The Carlsbad Brine Well operated from 1978 to 2008 as a source of brine (salt-laden water) for use in oil well drilling. Fresh water was pumped into the subsurface to dissolve subsurface salt layers, creating a brine that was pumped out and trucked to the oil fields for use in drilling and completions. Removal of the salt created an underground cavity and a risk of collapse of the overlying ground.

The New Mexico Oil Conservation Division (OCD) recognized the hazard in Carlsbad after a brine well southwest of Artesia, NM collapsed in July 2008. A second brine well north of Loco Hills, NM collapsed in November of the same year. It has been estimated that a similar collapse at the Carlsbad Brine Well could cause in excess of $1 billion in damages, affected a main irrigation canal, a major highway intersection, a rail line, and multiple businesses and residences. For more information about the Carlsbad Brine Well visit the Carlsbad Brine Well background tab.

Carlsbad Brine Well Location

Contact Us

OCD Main Office

(505) 476-3441