BALMORHEA – State park officials don’t believe oil drilling around this small West Texas town would contaminate or deplete the region’s famous artesian springs.
Officials said they have “no evidence to indicate concern” about Houston-based Apache Corp.’s plans to drill oil and gas wells on 350,000 acres surrounding the famous pools and canals of Balmorhea State Park.
Stephanie Salinas, a spokeswoman for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said the oil wells are lower than or equal in depth to the springs. Since water “doesn’t flow up-gradient,” the park should not be affected by oil and gas drilling.
Apache announced last week the discovery of a new oilfield it named Alpine High in the prairie north of the Davis Mountains. It estimated the field holds more than 15 billion barrels of oil and gas, potentially one of the largest discoveries in recent years.
Some residents of this 500-person town, however, have worried about the impact of such a vast find. They’re concerned the drilling could contaminate the aquifer, spoil the water or use up the springs — hydraulic fracturing requires millions of gallons of water to flood the well, crack shale and release oil.
Apache sent executives and workers to Balmorhea on Friday to meet with city and regional officials, the company said. Apache said it has leased the mineral rights under the town and the state park, but promised not to drill on or under either.
The park service said it would continue to monitor the situation.