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Devon watching grass grow

BY JACK MONEY Modified: November 9, 2009 at 1:12 pm •  Published: November 28, 2008
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photo - Devon Energy’s Don Mayberry, Wyatt Abbitt and Tracy Kidd discuss rangeland restoration efforts undertaken by the company at this Permian Basin well site southeast of Artesia, N.M. The company replanted land surrounding the well after completing its drilling. Photo By Jack Money, The Oklahoman
Devon Energy’s Don Mayberry, Wyatt Abbitt and Tracy Kidd discuss rangeland restoration efforts undertaken by the company at this Permian Basin well site southeast of Artesia, N.M. The company replanted land surrounding the well after completing its drilling. Photo By Jack Money, The Oklahoman
ARTESIA, N.M. — Watching grass grow seems to take forever — especially in New Mexico’s desert.

But Devon Energy Corp. is willing to take that time, and its efforts are paying off in restored grasslands at the locations of Permian Basin natural gas and oil wells it’s drilled in the southeast part of the state.

The company has been working on the reclamation program as part of a bigger effort of best management practices with New Mexico’s Bureau of Land Management.

The reclamation process takes time, said Don Mayberry, Devon Energy’s superintendent in Artesia.

"This country is hard to reclaim. It has very little topsoil, and very little moisture. And some places where we work, it is very rocky,” Mayberry said. "On those locations, you have to blast and then rake the rock up. Trying to reclaim those is very tough. It is a challenge.”

Noticed for its work

Devon Energy earns awards for that work, though, from both professional and government organizations. Two awards in particular were given to the Oklahoma City-based company this year — one from the Bureau of Land Management for a Technology-based, Holistic Approach to Oil and Gas Development, and another from the U.S. Department of Interior, which gave its Interior Cooperative Conservation Award to New Mexico’s Bureau of Land Management and Devon for their reclamation partnership.

Energy

Devon’s operations

The company has a half-million leased acres in southeast New Mexico, essentially in a box 100 miles wide and 100 miles deep. Within that, it operates about 1,200 wells, and adds about 50 wells annually. About 60 percent of them produce natural gas; the remainder produces oil. Average daily production for the area now is 94 million cubic feet of natural gas and 7,400 barrels of oil. Ninety-five percent of Devon’s operations are within Lea and Eddy counties in New Mexico, Devon officials said. The company has been active in the area for decades, especially since the 1980s when it acquired other companies with substantial working interests there. Devon’s main office is in Artesia. It employs about 75 workers. Dozens of other employees work in regional offices, officials say.

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