CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) - The government shutdown is bringing even more concerns to southeast New Mexico where the oil and gas industry is taking a hard hit.
"With the price of oil where it is, with the production and the activity level, it's a tremendous benefit to the state of New Mexico," said Raye Miller, chairman of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.
But with the government shutdown, parts of that booming industry have been forced to a halt.
"It's basically shutting down part of their industry," said Bureau of Land Management Environmental Protection Specialist Joe Amos.
The problem lies with the BLM, the agency responsible for processing drilling permits and authorizing businesses to drill on federal land.
BLM officials say with the government shut down oil and gas companies can't get their drilling applications approved, which means new operations will be put on hold.
"Locally we might have as many as 250 to 350 wells that are in the process of being permitted basically just sitting idle while we're waiting for the budgets to be passed," said Amos.
The application process is a lengthy one even when the government is in full force.
"Our applications to drill for new locations have been taking about four to six months for processing time, and at this point with them shut down that will be extended whatever the length of the shutdown is," said Miller.
That means any oil and gas company looking to set up a rig and drill a new well can't.
"There's definitely potential for staffing out rigs, lay off of drill crews and all of the service crews that would be associated with that rig," said Amos.
The federal shutdown is also affecting companies' abilities to transport their products.
The BLM says they've furloughed all of their employees except for essential maintenance personnel.
Drilling permits will not be authorized until the rest of those employees are back at work.
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