The Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation covers 850,000 acres in northcentral New Mexico. The Jicarilla Apache Nation (Nation), one of the single largest mineral owners in the San Juan Basin, wanted to better understand the types of environmental and hydrocarbon resources present in the northeast sector of their reservation. This environmentally sensitive area includes approximately 200,000 acres that are currently off limits to oil and gas development in order to preserve the environmental integrity of the land. However, this area also contains an extremely valuable hydrocarbon reservoir beneath it within the Mancos Shale. Since a majority of the Nation’s revenue is generated from oil and gas resources, having a full understanding of the land’s hydrocarbon reserve potential is critical to their financial stability and future growth.
The Nation hired RETTEW to conduct an oil and natural gas feasibility study to evaluate the potential for responsible hydrocarbon production within this sensitive area. The study serves as a guide for the Nation to assess how best to develop this area, should they choose to do so. RETTEW met with tribal departments and Council, documented existing conditions, identified and delineated natural and cultural resources, conducted a detailed reservoir analysis, evaluated potential water sources, developed several production scenarios and resource protection guidelines, and prepared a matrix outlining options for development of the land. Ultimately, we determined that by using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, they could access oil and natural gas reserves underneath sensitive resource areas from adjacent, less-sensitive areas over much of the study area. This approach would allow the Nation to successfully protect their natural and cultural resources while still providing revenue through oil and gas extraction.