Oil & Gas


New Horizons Foundation was created by the Lea County Commission and New Mexico Junior College to expand the business base of Lea County beyond its current concentration on oil and gas exploration, recovery and transportation. The plan involves utilizing technology based business opportunities created by Federally funded research and development to diversify and strengthen Lea County businesses, provide high paying technology based jobs for Lea County citizens, and provide a positive environment to encourage Lea county youth to return to the county after educational and military activity elsewhere. If you are interested in working with the Foundation in any of the areas described below or in a topic of your own, please call Dale Gannaway to discuss opportunities and options.

Technology Issue: “Oil Well Sucker Rod Life Extension”

The Foundation first looked to problems facing a broad array of oil and gas cluster businesses and identified corrosion as a significant and very wide spread problem in the petroleum and natural gas recovery and transportation business in Lea County New Mexico and throughout the world. The Foundation leadership reasoned that if existing Federal corrosion reduction technologies could be identified, tested, and made ready for commercialization by Lea County businesses, new markets of Lea County technology could be created throughout the Permian Basin and across the Nation.

At the request of the Foundation, Benet Laboratories in Watervliet NY sent a team of engineers familiar with corrosion reduction methods to Lea County to review the issues. Based upon their review and professional experience, they were able to propose a reasonable path to partner with the laboratory to identify and prove out technologies that could benefit businesses in Lea County and elsewhere in the region. Working with Benet and the Picatinny Arsenal, the Foundation entered into a master cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Benet to access Federal technology and expertise in any of its laboratories and a specific annex to identify the likely sources and potential solutions for corrosion attacking the iron compound rods that connect a pump jack with the pump at the bottom of oil and gas wells specifically in Lea County, NM.

First Results

Using an electrochemical corrosion model populated with data from Lea County produced water and corroded sucker rods, Benet researchers predicted a serious sucker rod life increase when using a corrosion resistant alloy versus commonly available sucker rods. Further analysis, as well as more information about the well environment is needed but the preliminary findings are very promising.

Considering the extensive use of sucker rods in Lea County and all of the Permian Basin, one or more Lea county based businesses that provide longer lived sucker rods would create a substantial new source of technically oriented jobs and a new source of wealth for Lea County residents.

The Next Steps

New Horizons intends to enter a second annex to the Master CRADA with Benet Laboratories to verify the initial findings and identify materials most resistant to Lea County produced water. We intend that, at the end of this second effort, some pieces of the most popular sucker rods in use in Lea County will have been coated and tested for corrosion resistance in Lea County produced water. The Foundation intends to collect and protect any intellectual property created by this effort to partner with a business partner that will launch this business with patent protection. The Foundation will then receive a revenue stream via a licensing or royalty agreement with the business to fund and sustain the foundation’s future efforts. The result of this research and intellectual property protection effort should make it easier to begin the effort of attracting one or more businesses to partner with the Foundation to commercialize this promising technology.

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