Nornew in ‘preservation mode’

NORWICH – The Norwegian natural gas company Nornew, Inc. continues its exploration and infrastructure development in Chenango, Broome and Madison counties despite a more stringent lending climate, dropping prices for natural gas and New York state regulatory issues.

The company’s third quarter report points to a total of 130,000 acres leased, 33 wells drilled this year and projections for 25 more wells into the Herkimer formation alone in 2009. With two more wells finishing up this week in Chenango County and two to go in the coming weeks, spokesman Dennis Holbrook said management will meet its fourth quarter projections.

The company has moved into a “preservation mode,” however, the spokesman said. The number of rigs in the area has been cut from four to two, and a partner is being sought to help develop Nornew’s mineral rights in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.

[The Marcellus Shale, often called the ‘mother lode’ of natural gas deposits under the subsurface here, isn’t the only layer of abundant gas. Chenango County is fortunate to be on top of three rich formations: the Marcellus and Utica shales and the Herkimer sandstone.]

“It’s been challenging with the economy to keep moving forward,” Holbrook said Wednesday. “It’s not by accident that other companies are looking to get out of their lease agreements.”

Holbrook was referring to a Pennsylvania company that recently informed its 1,000 leaseholders that it wouldn’t be able to make contracted payments. Moreover, other gas companies are putting leased acreage out to bid to larger natural gas concerns.

Nornew, Inc. is the only natural gas concern that continues to be active in Chenango County despite some leases acquired early on by Fortuna, Chesapeake and others. It is also the only company building a pipeline south to the recently completed Millenium Pipeline in Broome County.

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