Norse Energy, an oil and gas exploration and production company, has signed one year contract with Braden Drilling for use of a Speedstar 185 drilling rig.

The rig will be used for continued drilling of horizontal Herkimer wells in central New York, and is expected to start drilling in October 2010.

Negotiations are continuing with multiple service providers for additional drilling rig capacity in anticipation of the need to expand drilling operations.

Drilling of the Herkimer play generates added value for Norse through holding acreage by production that is highly prospective for large scale development of the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.

Norse’s acreage is also advantaged by its access to multiple interstate pipelines serving attractive natural gas markets in the northeastern US, the company said.