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Energy Report: Apache to invest in cave research at Balmorhea

June 1st, 2017 under Top Stories

By NICK WINCHESTER

nick@bigbendnow.com

REEVES COUNTY — Houston oil and gas company Apache Corporation has hired the National Cave and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI) to study the aquifers around Balmorhea State Park, according to Hearst’s Fuel Fix.

Last September, Apache discovered 15 billion barrels of oil and gas in the Alpine High, a new oil and gas play in the southwest corner of the Permian Basin. According to the company, the play extends 60 miles across the southern half of Reeves County.

Because the surrounding area is littered with aquifers – porous underground rock that bears bodies of water – Apache Corp. sought out help from (NCKRI), the nation’s leading cave research institute.

San Solomon Springs and other waterways near Balmorhea could be negatively affected by unconventional oil and gas extraction in the area, a hydrologist studying the region said in a report released in November.

According to Fuel Fix, the aquifers provide water for drinking, farmland, tourism and endangered species, like the Comanche Springs pupfish.

Apache doesn’t want oil and water to mix, institute director George Veni told Fuel Fix. “It’s not good for the people drinking the water,” he said. “It’s not good for business.”

But to minimize or prevent impact, the region has to understand the aquifers better, he said.

“We’ve know we’ve got some springs. We know we’ve got an aquifer,” he said. “But there’s very little known about it. And so, identifying those crucial, vulnerable drainage areas, relative to the proposed drilling, is a big unknown. It needs to be done.”

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