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Farmington Pilot Office

The Farmington Pilot Office is responsible for 1.4 million acres of BLM-administered surface estate and 3 million acres of BLM-administered mineral estate. These public lands encompass all or portions of San Juan, McKinley, Rio Arriba, and Sandoval Counties in northwestern New Mexico. Farmington is also responsible for the administration of the BLM Rio Puerco Field Office oil and gas program. 

The Farmington Pilot Office manages diverse natural resources and provides for a variety of uses, including livestock grazing; big game hunting; non-motorized and motorized recreation; viewing of world-class cultural resources; and oil, gas, and coal development. Besides energy development, lands are important to communities for recreation, wildlife habitat, wilderness, and community growth. 

The San Juan Basin is one of the largest natural gas fields in the nation and has been under development for more than 50 years. It supports approximately 20,000 active oil and gas wells, and there are more than 2,400 existing federal oil and gas leases within the Farmington Pilot Office administrative area. Virtually all of the high potential for oil and gas development has been leased. 

In recent years, changes in state well-spacing regulations, higher oil and gas commodity prices, and resulting infill drilling have doubled the number of federal mineral wells estimated to be drilled and produced over the next 20 years to approximately 10,000. As a result, the Farmington Pilot Office is considered the BLM’s largest oil and gas permitting, inspection, and enforcement office.

The Farmington Office has established an excellent permitting, reservoir management, and I&E staff that works with leaseholders and operators to ensure compliance with BLM requirements. In recent years, the office has greatly expanded the number of surface environmental field inspections before, during, and after construction activities to monitor and ensure compliance with conditions of approval (COAs) attached to permits.

In the second year of the Pilot Project, the Farmington Pilot Office implemented a new strategy for inspecting oil and gas operations. Imbalances had developed between time allocated to inspecting wells that produce enough to require annual inspection and those whose production levels call for less frequent inspection. The new strategy ensures that all 20,000 wells administered by the office will undergo all required inspections at least every three years, as required by law.

Production inspections have been the focus of I&E efforts in Farmington, with 869 such inspections completed in FY 2007, compared with 157 in FY 2005, the year before the Pilot Project was established. Under-reported production of both oil and natural gas was eliminated on leases administered by the Farmington office in the first year of the Pilot Project (FY 2006). 

At the end of FY 2007, 22 percent fewer APDs were pending in Farmington than at the end of FY 2005.

Last updated: 10-20-2009