A look back on Chenango’s relationship with the bankrupt Norse Energy

NORWICH – Norse Energy Corp. announced Friday that its western New York-based U.S. subsidiary had filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 reorganization. The natural gas drilling company, which at one time held 130,000 acres under lease for natural gas in Chenango, Madison and Broome counties, fell into debt while waiting for regulatory changes in the state that would allow it to begin tapping shale formations.

Formerly known as Nornew, Inc., Norse Energy was active in western New York throughout the 1990s before appearing on the Chenango County landscape in 2006. Landowners, mostly in the northern towns of Smyrna, Plymouth and Preston, began entering into lease contracts with the Norwegian company for lucrative signing bonuses and production royalties. Norse targeted sandstone formations such as the Herkimer and Vernon, and drilled vertical wells using both pressurized air and low water level hydraulic fracturing to extract the natural gas.

About 40 wells were drilled here while the state and Department of Environmental Conservation worked to revise its regulatory framework for high water volume fracturing. Norse later built a 40-mile gathering system that delivered the gas north to the Dominion and Tennessee pipelines and west through a New York State Electric and Gas line. The company planned to eventually construct a 50-mile proprietary transportation system through Chenango County from Smyrna to Afton and south to the Millennium Transmission Pipeline.

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