New Mexico's

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Natural Resources


Helium & CO2 gas is produced at Bueyeros.

Carbon Dioxide

In the northeast quadrant of New Mexico, the industry is developing what is believed to be the largest deposit of CO2 in the United States. The Bueyeros field, better known as the Bravo Dome, encompasses 1.2 million acres in Harding, Union and Quay Counties. It is estimated to contain over 16 trillion cubic feet of CO2 reserves. Approximately half of these in-place reserves are considered to be recoverable using currently available technology. Total 2002 CO2 production was 100 billion cubic feet valued at nearly $61 million. This represents a 14% decrease in production from 2001, but prices remained strongly above $0.55 per Mcf throughout the year allowing for good revenue for the producers and to the state. Virtually all CO2 marketed in the state is transported to oilfields in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico for use in enhanced oil recovery projects, where it is injected instead of water and has a “scouring” effect on oil producing formations, thereby moving more oil through the formations towards the producing wells.

The Bueyeros field (Phinney et al., 1978, Caffee et al., 1999) is a small section of the Bravo Dome gas field, which covers an area of some ~2400km2 and contains an estimated 2.3x1011m3 (STP) of 99%+ pure CO2. The field is located in Harding and Union Counties, New Mexico, 35 km to the South of the Cenozoic volcanism (Raton-Clayton field) related to the Sierra Grande uplift.

Naturally occurring carbon dioxide has been produced from three fields in Union and Harding counties (Broadhead 1987). The Bueyeros and Bravo Dome fields continue to produce. Several plants produce dry ice and liquid carbon dioxide and Amoco has piped gaseous carbon dioxide to the Permian basin for enhanced oil recovery. Estimates of recoverable reserves in the Bravo dome and Bueyeros fields are from 5.3-9.8 trillion ft3 (Broadhead 1987). The origin of the carbon dioxide is controversial and hypotheses have included juvenile magmatic gases and breakdown of carbonate rocks by intrusions of groundwater (Broadhead 1987).