Consol kicks off natural gas drilling project at Pittsburgh air - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Consol kicks off natural gas drilling project at Pittsburgh airport

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Consol Energy is spending $500 million to drill oil and gas from a 9,000 acre parcel at the Pittsburgh airport, a project expected to generate another $500 million in up-front bonuses and royalty payments.

Consol President and CEO Nick Deluliius, called it a “vast economic opportunity for the entire region.”

“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,” Deluliius said at a ceremony marking Consol's 150th anniversary and the start of drilling. “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.”

Consol leased the property from the Allegheny Airport Authority, which has already used the first $50 million in payments to lower airline rates. Lower rates mean reduced operating costs for airlines serving Pittsburgh International Airport.

“A lower cost airport makes us more competitive,” Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “Lower costs make us much more competitive with airlines, to bring more flights in.”

The ceremony took place on Pad 2, the first of six pads to be constructed on airport property. Consol plans to drill 45 wells in the Marcellus shale and will also explore the possibility of tapping into other layers -- the Devonian shale above it and Utica below it -- from those same drill heads.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said the airport drilling “allows us to be energy leaders not just in the country, but in the world” while responsibly harvesting the Commonwealth's energy resources.

“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,” he'd said.