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Exxon Mobil Has a Potash Problem in the Permian Basin

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The Texas-based oil company shares a chunk of New Mexico land with mining companies, which makes drilling a challenge

The Permian Basin, the largest U.S. oil field, stretches from West Texas to southeast New Mexico. Photo: David Goldman/Associated Press

A vital crop nutrient that lies underground near oil and natural-gas reserves is holding back Exxon Mobil Corp.’s development of a key asset in the booming Permian Basin.

Unlike many of its rivals in the largest U.S. oil patch, the Texas oil company shares a sizable chunk of its land with mining companies that extract potash and other minerals used to produce fertilizer from underground mines, blocking drillers’ direct access to bounties of oil-soaked rocks.

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