A drilling services company based in New Mexico has had to suspend its plans to convert its truck and drilling rig fleets from diesel to natural gas because of the local gas distribution utility’s inability to service a proposed fueling station in Farmington, NM.

Aztec Well Servicing has proposed to convert 121 trucks and 13 drilling rigs to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and develop its own fueling facility at an existing gasoline station operated by one of its affiliates. The local utility, New Mexico Gas Co., has said it would need to build a 3.5-mile high-pressure pipeline extension and Aztec would have to pay for it.

A utility spokesperson told NGI Tuesday that New Mexico Gas has been meeting with Aztec officials for a number of months and it has proposed alternative locations that would not require any additional utility infrastructure being built, but Aztec has rejected those alternatives.

Aztec senior executives have told local news media that the utility is stalling its plans to move to CNG as its transportation and drilling rig fuel. Ironically, the standoff is taking place in the center of the San Juan Basin, one of the nation’s major sources of natural gas.

“It’s a travesty,” said Aztec Executive Vice President Jason Sandel, in a report in the Albuquerque Journal.

The well servicing company wants to convert its Road Runner Fuels gasoline station in Aztec, NM, to the CNG fueling facility for its fleet and for public use of other natural gas-powered vehicles. New Mexico Gas, however, said it would have to construct a 6-inch diameter high pressure (60 psig) pipeline to service that location.

The extension would be exclusively to service the CNG facility, and therefore would have to be paid for by Aztec Well Servicing at an estimated cost of up to $850,000, the utility spokesperson said.

Aztec company officials were not immediately available for comment.

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