Gas Drilling in Upstate New York Atracts Foreign Investors

How valuable are upstate New York's untapped natural gas reserves? No one knows for sure. But as WNYC's Ilya Marritz reports, a new joint venture gives some clues.

REPORTER: StatoilHydro, a Norwegian company, will pay $3.4 billion dollars for a one-third share in Chesapeake Energy's northeast natural gas operations. Chesapeake has already leased a million acres in New York State.

At a hearing in Albany last month, Chesapeake executive Thomas Price said the company had stretched its capital reserves in the rush to lease land for drilling, and was looking for partners.

Now they're in business with a major. But Chesapeake will have to get drill bits in the ground and meet production targets to complete the deal with the Norwegians. It's unlikely there will be any drilling in New York until the state issues an environmental review, due out in Spring 2009.

Pennsylvania already has wells producing gas from the same geologic formation. For WNYC, I'm Ilya Marritz.