Carizzo Oil & Gas of Houston recently started digging its first well north of the Tioga County village of Owego. The Houston-based energy company already has wells in the Eagle Ford and Barnett shale formations in Texas, as well as operations in Colorado, Ohio and the North Sea,
Richard Hunter, Carizzo's vice president of investor relations, said the exploratory well will determine whether the company pursues horizontal drilling.
Horizontal high volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, isn't permitted in New York. State regulators have been reviewing the highly polarizing issue for four years and could make a decision whether to allow it by the end of this year.
Fracking injects millions of gallons of chemical-laced water into the ground to crack rock and release gas. Supporters point to greater domestic energy supply, job creation and revenue for cash-starved states while opponents worry about pollution and health impacts.