New York may ease ban on high-volume fracturing

By OGJ editors

New York may soon relax a ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in certain areas of the state, a press report.

A New York Times article dated June 13 quoted sources close to Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying the state might pursue a plan “to limit the practice to several struggling counties along the Pennsylvania border, only in towns that approve the technology.” The state is expected to issue a final supplemental generic environmental impact statement in mid-2012.

The Times story indicated that certain areas would initially be unavailable for development either due to proximity to fresh water aquifers, other setback restrictions, or local bans on drilling, noted Norse Energy ASA, Lysaker, Norway, an operator that has acreage in central and western New York.

“Fortunately for Norse, the company estimates that only around 6% of its acreage in central NY and 8% in western New York would be impacted by such restrictions.

Norse noted that the Times article further indicates that development permits will be initially issued in certain counties, including Broome and Chenango counties, where Norse holds a majority of its acreage. While the article focuses on the Marcellus shale, Norse estimates that the Utica shale contains even larger resource potential in these areas of New York.

“In the areas of the state where we have traditionally explored for oil and gas, the local support has been substantial,” commented Norse CEO Mark Dice. “It is encouraging that the governor’s office appears poised to now advance the SGEIS, allowing for the safe and environmentally sound development of this valuable natural resource,” Dice said.

Norse owns or leases 130,000 net acres in New York of which 33,000 acres lie in the liquids-rich shale fairways of western New York and 97,000 net acres lie in the Marcellus and Utica gas fairways in central New York.

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