“The public would gain more from reaping the gains — an influx of jobs and capital and an increase in royalties paid to the state and federal governments — from opening up the Mancos Shale formation to economically viable drilling now, rather than waiting until the resolution of this case,” The Honorable James O. Browning, federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.
On March 11, 2015, several environmental groups filed litigation (known as the Diné lawsuit) asking the District Court of New Mexico to cancel drilling permits that were already approved by the Bureau of Land Management.
These permits granted permission for WPX and other operators to drill horizontal wells in the Mancos Shale formation of the San Juan Basin.
The plaintiffs also asked the court to stop the BLM from issuing new drilling permits until the agency completes its current efforts to amend the existing Resource Management Plan for the area.
WHY WPX IS INVOLVED
WPX is actively developing oil and gas resources in the San Juan Basin, particularly the Gallup oil play where we made a new discovery in 2013.
Our company is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the area to develop new oil wells. We support continued responsible development that respects cultural and environmental resources, as we’ve been doing.
WPX has an outstanding reputation in New Mexico. We have received more than a dozen awards for outstanding operations, stewardship, collaboration, restoration and protecting wildlife.
We asked the District Court to allow us to participate in the legal proceedings so that we can demonstrate the importance of allowing development to continue.
We are joined by other operators and the American Petroleum Institute (API) in providing information about the benefits of local energy development in this area and how we protect the land as we drill.
May 11, 2015
The plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction requesting the District Court of New Mexico to cancel the approved permits, to stop the operators from drilling any additional approved wells, and to stop the BLM from issuing more permits until the case is decided on its merits.
July 13, 2015
The court conducted an an all-day hearing to allow participants to discuss their arguments on the matter.
August 14, 2015
The Court issued its order denying the preliminary injunction. The order concluded that the plaintiffs failed to meet three of the four factors needed to grant the preliminary motion.
This means that the BLM can continue to approve and issue permits, and that operators such as WPX can continue to conduct their operations while the underlying case is being decided.
In the order, federal judge Browning wrote, “The public would gain more from reaping the gains — an influx of jobs and capital and an increase in royalties paid to the state and federal governments — from opening up the Mancos Shale formation to economically viable drilling now, rather than waiting until the resolution of this case,”
August 25, 2015
The plaintiffs filed a motion with the District Court requesting an injunction pending appeal of the August 14, 2015, Order to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Plaintiffs have requested an expedited ruling on the motion by September 7, 2015.
August 31, 2015
WPX and API filed their objections to the plaintiff’s motion requesting an injunction. The District Court has set a hearing on the motion for September 16, 2015.
With respect to the original lawsuit filed in the District Court, the Court has set a scheduling conference with the parties for September 16, 2015, to discuss schedules for discovery and other deadlines as the case proceeds in the district court to a decision of the case on the merits.