Pittsburgh gets advice on airport gas drilling

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PITTSBURGH – Officials from Consol Energy Inc. and Pittsburgh International Airport went to Texas in May to seek advice on gas drilling deals, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Sunday.


The Pittsburgh airport signed a drilling deal with Consol in February. Pittsburgh International projects the deal will yield about $500 million over the life of the lease, which will be in effect as long as the gas keeps flowing profitably.


A gas drilling lease at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport has brought in about $300 million since 2006. But drilling there has been on hold for several years because of low natural gas prices.


David Magana, a spokesman for the Texas airport, said revenue from drilling “comes and goes.”


“If you know that going in and you don’t create a lot of need from the gas revenue,” then such deals go well, Magana said, adding that the DFW airport never experienced disturbances in air traffic operations because of the drilling.


Magana said drilling royalties are a welcome supplement to airport budgets, but not a panacea.


Consol is scheduled to reveal its drilling plan at a public meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott. The company is drafting its environmental assessment as required by the Federal Aviation Authority and public comments from the meeting will be included in that document.


The Allegheny County Airport Authority is enjoying some of the best credit ratings it’s ever had. Both Moody’s and Fitch recently upgraded the authority, specifically crediting the deal with Consol as a financial bright spot.


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