VIENNA - A Houston energy company is poised to bring the Warren area into the shale natural gas boom by drilling its first well around mid-summer.
Carrizo Oil and Gas Inc.'s first horizontal well could be in Trumbull County, or across the Pennsylvania border in Mercer County, company Vice President of Investor Relations Richard Hunter said Wednesday.
Along with its financial partner, Avista Capital Partners, the company holds leases on about 16,600 acres in southeastern Trumbull County and southwestern Mercer County, according to the company's investor presentation to the Independent Petroleum Association of America in Palm Beach, Fla.
Trumbull County recorder Diana Marchese is shown Tribune Chronicle / Ron Selak Jr.
Wednesday with a book of land title records. A landowners group has agreed in principle to pay for Trumbull County’s paper land title records to be electronically imaged.
Hunter said he couldn't break out the Trumbull County acreage, but the presentation suggests the county has a slight edge over Mercer.
"We have enough to get started. If the well is encouraging, we'd be interested in adding to the acreage," he said.
Carrizo is applying for permits with state regulators to begin drilling, Hunter said.
"We'd like to start drilling, or have the well site selection completed, by the middle of the year," he said.
The exact locations of the permits are unknown, although Hunter said the company considers access to water, the lay of the land, access to roads and proximity to population.
It's unclear if the company will seek more land leases until after the first well can be evaluated.
"The studies are all encouraging, but we won't know until we drill a well and watch it produce," he said.
With a roughly $1 billion market capitalization on the Nasdaq stock exchange under symbol CRZO, Hunter called the company "peanuts" compared to Chesapeake Energy and Shell Oil, two giants who are working in the Utica and Marcellus shale fields of eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and neighboring states.
"What we have an abundance of is experience in drilling these kinds of wells. For our size, we're well above and beyond any similar-sized company in drilling (horizontal) wells. That's all we've done since 2005," he said.