A facility that would inject liquid oilfield waste underground could be coming to the Delaware Basin in New Mexico after state regulators recently approved the needed permits for the facility.
Milestone Environmental Services announced the completion of the permitting process via the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division on Tuesday for a slurry injection facility located near Jal — the company’s first facility in New Mexico.
Milestone currently owns and operates similar facilities throughout the Permian Basin region in Texas in Midland, Pecos, and Orla which also hosts a landfill for solid oilfield waste.
Milestone Chief Executive Officer Gabriel Rio said the company’s method of slurry injection targets deep, underground areas up to 6,000 feet deep that are isolated by geologically protected areas.
Slurry, which is mostly made of excess crude oil and drilling mud, has too much liquid to be disposed of in landfills without costly processes that typically involve mixing dirt with the liquid to solidify and leaves the waste on the surface to potentially emit air-polluting materials.
It also has too many solids for disposal through a saltwater disposal facility usually used for produced water and would also be too costly to treat and recycle, Rio said.
He said Milestone’s method of deep disposal injection provides a cost-effective and environmentally safe way to isolate the waste underground.
“It helps reduce cost, but it also has a very strong environmental benefit,” he said. “Instead of that material being put on the surface, that stuff is not going to be volatized and go into the air. It’s going to be sequestered a mile below the water table. It enables operators to reduce their environmental impact.”
Milestone first began operations in the Permian in 2016, but the new facility will mark its first move in New Mexico on the western side of the Permian.
Rio said the state was an important place for the company to operate as the industry recently boomed in the southeast region, and tighter environmental regulations could make a stronger market for waste management than in Texas.