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.
OCD Main Office