Norse's change in strategy affects Chenango

ROCHESTER – Norse Energy Inc.’s move last week to cancel its current sandstone gas drilling program in Chenango County will have a significant effect on local jobs and tax receipts, according to Chenango County’s economic development consultant to the natural gas industry.

The announcement, made late last week from the Norwegian company’s headquarters in Oslo, cited Norse Energy’s need to preserve cash for more profitable Marcellus and Utica shale drilling in the future, pending permitting through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The company has a significant land position of 180,000 net acres in New York State, mostly in Chenango and Madison counties, with total contingent resources of 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas at the end of 2010. Norse Energy, formerly Nornew Inc., began its Herkimer Sandstone drilling campaign about five years ago and had planned for 30 wells this year alone.

Norse Vice President Dennis Holbrook said Monday that only a quarter of the wells planned this year were actually completed and online. About 25 wells, located primarily Smyrna, Preston and Plymouth, are already producing and connected to the company’s 40 miles of pipeline in Chenango County. Norse’s long term strategy was to eventually develop the shale potential within those and future wells.

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