... Natural Gas Drilling Cleared for Take Off at Pittsburgh Airport

Natural Gas Drilling Cleared for Take Off at Pittsburgh Airport

Drilling is the next thing to take flight at the Pittsburgh International Airport. Consol Energy Inc. officials, Gov. Tom Corbett and Allegheny County chief executive Rich Fitzgerald marked the commencement of natural gas development at the airport.

The Aug. 25 event kicked off a sweeping exploration and production program expected to continue through 2018 and bring hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development activity to the region.

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“Today marks the culmination of what was an exhaustive process, one that was thorough at all levels, and ultimately drove significant collaboration and constructive, open dialogue with all parties,” said Consol Energy president and CEO Nick DeIuliis.  “When you talk about public-private partnerships and the benefits such partnerships can generate, I believe this venture is and will be the gold standard.  We intend to honor our 150-year legacy in this region by ensuring that this project is a model for safe and responsible shale gas development here in Southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond.”

Corbett said the project and others like it to harvest the region’s energy sources are “reinvigorating local communities” across Pennsylvania.

“Thanks to our ‘all of the above and below’ energy strategy that is leading the way toward American energy independence, companies like Consol are investing in Pennsylvania and are creating family-sustaining jobs,” the governor added.

Including up-front bonus payments made to the Allegheny County Airport Authority, anticipated royalties and intended capital spent by the Pittsburgh-based company of approximately $500 million, the plan is expected to provide investment of over $1 billion dollars to the greater Pittsburgh region over the life of the project.

“This project has been a great example of what a positive public-private partnership can look like in our community,” Fitzgerald said. “This partnership will generate $500 million in revenue for the airport, as well as provide $500 million worth of jobs on public works projects in this region. It is a win-win, and I am proud that Allegheny County has played a part in making it happen.”

Federal Aviation Administration rules restrict how airports can spend drilling dollars and other non-aeronautical revenue. The start of Consol Energy’s drilling program at PIT represents a strategic move on the part of the airport to continue pursuing new revenue streams to generate non-aviation related income, with economic benefits already accruing.

“The Allegheny County Airport Authority has lowered airline rates twice since 2013 after accepting the initial Consol payment of $50 million,” said David Minnotte, chairman of the Allegheny County Airport Authority. “Reducing operating costs for airlines serving Pittsburgh International Airport, will position [Pittsburgh International Airport] to become more competitive and marketable to major airlines and can contribute to improving air service in Pittsburgh.”

The ceremony took place on the first of six drilling pads to be constructed on the airport property. Consol plans to drill 45 Marcellus wells and will also explore the possibility of tapping other horizons from this location including the Devonian and Utica shale plays.

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