NORWICH – Last week’s release of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft regulations on permitting natural gas hydrofracking into shale “clearly involves our future,” said a spokesman for Norse Energy, Inc., the most prominent natural gas developer in Chenango County.
“We are very encouraged by the DEC. I can’t say until we go through it - all 900 plus pages of it - that we agree with everything in it,” said Norse attorney Dennis Holbrook, “but they’ve gone to great lengths to try to address every detail ... to be very thorough.”
Norse Energy, a Norwegian-based company (also known as Nornew), has successfully brought natural gas to the marketplace from wells drilled into sandstone formations in Madison and Chenango County, primarily in the towns of Lebanon, Smyrna and Plymouth. The company says it has nearly all of the available acreage in the region’s Marcellus and Utica shales leased or purchased already, and is actively pursuing a business partner with the size, financial strength and experience to help them develop it.
“It’s been tough to do that while we were in that holding pattern,” Holbrook said, referring to the 18 months that it took the DEC to reveal the regulations.
“We see a lot of potential, but I use that word because up until now, it’s not been possible to test horizontal drilling and hydrofracking of those formations.”
The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which uses millions of gallons of water and generates an equal amount of waste, is widely used in the U.S. as a means of recovering gas from tight shale formations. The controversial technology and confirmation of the vast quantities of natural gas available in Marcellus is what prompted Gov. David Paterson’s call to revisiting the state’s permitting process.