AZTEC — Commissioners approved a permit for a new gas well Tuesday, the first well planned this year within city limits.

Drilling of the nearly 7,000-foot deep gas well will begin in June.

The well will be located amid a sweeping expanse of shrubby gypsum hills one half-mile southeast of downtown Aztec, and one mile east of the Animas River on state owned land.

A 126 foot access road extension will be required to connect the existing road to the drill pad.

The Aztec Well Service will drill the well, using a carrier-mounted hydraulic rig.

"Essentially it's like a gigantic plumbing machine," said Jason Sandel, owner and executive vice president for Aztec Well Service. "The process of creating the well from start to finish typically does not take much time at all."

Drilling is estimated to run 24 hours per day, for nearly two weeks until completion. Almost 4 acres of land will be used to accommodate the well pad, access road and pipeline.

The well will not use a compressor because natural pressure levels will be adequate for 30 to 40 years, said Roshana Moojen, director of community development for the city.

Without a compressor, noise emissions should be fairly low. No residential or commercial structures are located within 400 feet of the proposed well.

"We haven't seen as much new well creation in recent years, so it's nice to see that ConocoPhillips is invested in new wells coming online," Moojen said. "We recently saw a well plugged up and abandoned in Aztec, so this is good news and means new or supported jobs for the community.



The city has seen the number of new wells dwindle in recent years. This well is the only one slated for development within city limits in 2013.

"Oil and Gas activity in San Juan County is down as it is directly related to the value of natural gas," said Jim Winchester, communications director for the New Mexico Environment Department.

A recent high of 97 wells were drilled in the county in 2011, he said, down by roughly a third last year.

Once the projected well is completed, more than 1,000 feet of pipeline will be necessary to connect the well to an existing line southwest of the facility.

The well is owned by ConocoPhillips and will be operated by Burlington Resources Oil and Gas Company.

An official with ConocoPhillips confirmed that the well will use hydrolic fracturing to obtain the natural gas.

"A Frack Fluid Disclosure Form is necessary for wells that use hydrolic fracturing," Winchester said.