Lea County: New Mexico’s Energy Capital

Lea County, which produces more oil than 43 U.S. states, is a leading hub for all types of energy—including a $4-billion facility to process uranium from nuclear reactor fuel.


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Lea County, which produces more oil than 43 U.S. states, is a leading hub for all types of energy—including a $4-billion facility to process uranium from nuclear reactor fuel.
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New Mexico’s Energy Capital

Lea County, NM, which produces more oil than 43 U.S. states, is a leading hub for all types of energy—including a $4-billion facility to process uranium from nuclear reactor fuel.

Lea County: New Mexico’s Energy Capital

By the BF Staff
From the March/April 2018 Issue

New Mexico as a whole ranks third in oil production in the United States, and Lea County produces over half of New Mexico’s output. If Lea County were a state itself, it would rank as the 7th highest producing state in the country. For the past four years, Lea County has been the top producing county within New Mexico, producing over 89 million barrels in 2017. In 2017, Lea County also ranked as the top producing county within the Permian Basin, including Texas counties.

Lea County New Mexico
URENCO USA’s facility in Eunice, NM is the only commercial uranium processing facility in North America. (Photo: edclc.org)

In 2008, Lea County, NM branded itself the EnergyPlex, a brand that encompasses all types of energy, from solar to nuclear to oil and gas. The EnergyPlex is committed to energy and economic security through an expanding range of products and diversity in companies within Lea County. Lea County has seen exponential growth in both population and industry sectors, creating a diversified economy and inviting a variety of industries to locate in Lea County.

Lea County is seeing continued and increased growth in the oil and gas sectors with over $8 billion worth of investment planned in the next few years from companies such as ExxonMobil, Concho, ConocoPhillips, Lilis Energy, EOG, Yates Petroleum, Eagle Holdings and more. In addition to downstream operations, midstream processing facilities show increased interest in Lea County as the Permian Basin yields higher returns than ever.

Already-located companies such as DCP Midstream and Holly Frontier look to expansion and increasing refining and processing capacity in Lea County. Lucid Energy recently tripled their production capacity in their Lea County facility.

Regionally, Lea County is well located for regional headquarter operations. Companies such as Mewbourne have made Lea County their regional base of operations as it is strategically placed between Carlsbad and Artesia, as well as Midland and Odessa in Texas. Lea County is able to attract and keep its workforce with affordable and available housing as well as top-rated training programs to improve skills and help companies train and retain the right workers.

With over 320 days of sun and a relatively low incline, the EnergyPlex sees exponential potential in renewable energies including solar and wind. Four solar plants in Lea County generating over 40 MW of clean energy and an additional 80+ MW are in the planning stages. SPower recently purchased 640 acres in the EnergyPlex Industrial Park for a large scale solar generation facility. Wind farms in Lea County currently generate 20 MW of energy; the Sterling wind project under construction by Akuo Energy will add 30 MW to the power grid, both regional and local.

A $4-BILLION NUKE FACILITY IN LEA COUNTY

Nuclear energy flourishes in Lea County as well, including uranium enrichment companies such as URENCO USA that located in Lea County in 2010. This $4-billion facility deconverts uranium fuel from nuclear power plants all over the world. The facility employs around 400 local workers, between contract and full-time. In addition to URENCO, Lea County sees continued interest in nuclear storage with the Waste Isolation Processing Plant across the border in Eddy County and Holtec in the process of investing $5 billion in a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility, named HI-STORE.

Lea County has been a logistical hub for many years, as both a gateway to New Mexico and Texas, with ample trucking, air transport and rail assets. The CIG Logistics transload facility in Jal, NM includes silo storage, sand storage, car spots, Unit and Manifest, and Texas-New Mexico Railroad Switching.

Lea County is home to five separate air fields and one commercial airport: Lea County Regional Airport, located just outside of Hobbs. LCRA is serviced by United Airlines with daily flights from Hobbs to Houston. The airport continues to undergo improvements: a new fire station was completed last year to accommodate a larger crew in preparation for runway extensions that will be built in the next few years.

With great logistical placement, Lea County also offers available land for any project. Lea County’s largest industrial park, EnergyPlex Park, features 9,600 acres for development and is suitable for a broad range of industry sectors, including manufacturing, logistics, oil and gas, renewables and more. EnergyPlex Park features customizable lot sizes for purchase or lease with county provided water, groundwater access, electric transmission and distribution lines, access roads, and natural gas transmission lines on site. A full Alta Survey, Phase 1 Environmental Site Analysis, solar insolation study and flood plain study have been completed and the site is undergoing a Site Certification Process by Xcel Energy.

The Economic Development Corporation of Lea County (EDCLC) has been integral to the success of Lea County’s companies, including helping connect companies with local leadership, finding and utilizing both local and state incentives, working with local entities to find and train workers and more. With the branding of the EnergyPlex, EDCLC is committed to energy, collaboration and innovation in the years to come. For more information, visit EDCLC.org.

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