Fracking, and the Frackers, Swing for the Fences

For a rookie, the team didn’t do too shabby.

On June 8, 2017, the Farmington Frackers kicked off their inaugural season. By the end of July, they had gone 36-1, capping things off with a victory in the Stan Musial World Series of the American Amateur Baseball Congress.

Season #2 got underway two weeks ago, and the Frackers have returned to their winning ways. Heading into tonight’s faceoff with the California Jays, they’re 9-0.

Good news for the hometown team — a club unapologetically named after a revolutionary method to access vast amounts of hydrocarbons. Farmington, and San Juan County, certainly need a boost. As the chart below shows, over the last decade, employment has trended downward in the region. Jobs in the county peaked in October 2008, at 55,983. In April, employment stood at just 50,503.

Source: New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Northwest New Mexico is known for its impressive natural-gas resource base. In 2017, over a quarter of the Land of Enchantment’s production came from San Juan County alone. But with the fracking revolution keeping natural-gas prices low, times have been tough.

One possible ray of hope is the nation’s increased exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The U.S. Department of Energy recently released a new study further confirming that exporting LNG “is good for the economy, and those benefits will outweigh domestic cost impacts.” At last month’s Four Corners Oil and Gas Conference, Tim Rynott, of Durango-based Ridge Resources, described his attempts to find new markets:

Rynott has been researching LNG ports on the Pacific Coast, including Jordan Cove LNG facility near Coos Bay, Oregon and Costa Azul LNG facility in Baja California, Mexico. He said Costa Azul could be a viable option for San Juan Basin gas.

“I’ve been calling different companies and really trying to research, ‘Is this maybe one of the best places to go?'” Rynott said. “And if it is, then the San Juan is really well-positioned. Right now, we’re looking for some long-term, motivating and inspirational things — maybe this is it.”

“I don’t want this considered an academic exercise,” Rynott added. “We want to think how we can get this area revitalized — Farmington, Durango, whatever — and find place to move all this gas.”

With the global LNG market growing by 10 percent between 2016 and 2017 — “the largest annual volume increase since 2010” — there’s no question that demand is strong. A comeback for New Mexico’s portion of the Four Corners is overdue. Inspired by the Frackers, the frackers might play a little long ball of their own.

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