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FARMINGTON — San Juan College's School of Energy is one step closer to building a $15 million facility on the college's Farmington campus.

The Merrion Oil and Gas Foundation donated $1 million to the project according to a Dec. 17 press release. The donation adds to a $4 million donation by BP America in August.

"It's a really exciting project," said T. Greg Merrion, of Merrion Oil and Gas. "This is going to put (Farmington) on the map."

The School of Energy's new facility will provide San Juan College with the tools to train oil and gas industry workers with the newest technology and up-to-date practices, he said.

"We like to support education-related projects," Merrion said. "We like to support economic development projects to help people help themselves. We stepped up with a large donation because it will have an impact locally."

The new building is one step in stimulating regional growth, he said.

"I think there's a lot of things that will happen that we can't anticipate right now," Merrion said.

The project also carries more immediate benefits according to San Juan College's data.

The School of Energy's building on Hutton Street near the south side of Farmington has reached full usage and enrollment has been capped by college officials.

Demand for the school's training and education appears to have exceeded available space.

The School of Energy offers accredited Natural Gas Compression and Lease Operator programs, training in process technology and maintenance, commercial driving licensing, solar energy and occupational safety.


While the School of Energy graduates about 250 students and trains about 7,000 oil and gas industry workers per year, San Juan College officials are looking forward to providing for more students.

"We're looking at a center of excellence," said Randy Pacheco, School of Energy dean. "This will enable us to take the lead in the United States ... to expand. People will come from all over the world (for training)."

The college is about half way done with fundraising for the project, he said.

In addition to the $4 million initial investment provided by BP America and the $1 million provided by Merrion Oil and Gas, San Juan College's governing board pledged $2 million toward the project. BP pledged another $1 million after the San Juan College Foundation raises another $2 million.

The remaining $5 million will be sought from state and private funding sources according to San Juan College's press release.

"This will benefit a lot of kids," Pacheco said. "The Merrion family — they're just great. We're very fortunate to have such a philanthropic family. They're not just thinking about their business."