Consol details plans for drilling wells on Pittsburgh International Airport property
Consol Energy Inc. plans to keep its drilling at Pittsburgh International Airport from becoming a public eyesore, earning plaudits from several locals eager to learn more about one of the highest-profile drilling projects in the state.
The company detailed plans on Tuesday to drill 47 wells over five years on airport property, using hills and ridges to hide the project from public view.
The deal could bring an estimated $500 million for Marcellus shale drilling on 8,807 acres of airport property and brings shale drilling closer to Pittsburgh's urban core and densely populated suburbs.
Officials revealed their plans before starting an environmental assessment they need to gain approval of the airport's federal regulators. They also spent the afternoon taking public input for the assessment.
The work will begin in spring 2014, and most of that money will start to arrive after gas starts to flow from the wells in summer 2015, said Consol officials, who joined officials from the Allegheny County Airport Authority to discuss the drilling plans.
About 200 residents showed up over a three-hour period to listen and ask questions. Many wanted to know where the wells were going to be located and were pleased to hear that Consol planned to keep them out of sight — and at least not near runways.
“When you say ‘drilling at the airport,' it's not a rig on top of the runway. Now I get it,” said Beth Feather of Moon.
Most of the pads will be on the outskirts of the airport land, with construction starting near the southern boundary of the property and then moving east. The first well will go in what's now a wooded area off of Route 30, about a third of a mile east of a neighborhood called Imperial Point. Consol can use sound barriers if it needs them, but company officials said they don't believe that's necessary.
“We hope so,” said Chris Caruso, assistant manager at Findlay. He was at the morning session on Tuesday, but the township will need more time to evaluate Consol's sound study, he said. “If it turns out to be true, that'd be great.”
The last two wells are the only ones on the northern side of the property. While they're both close to the two segments of Interstate 376 that surround the airport, even they will be mostly out of the public's view, said Randy Forister, the airport authority's development director. The last pad could be the most visible, but the public would have to leave Interstate 376 and get on Halverson Drive to see it, Forister said.
“You'll get a peek of the rig while the rigs are up, but other than that, I don't think you'll see much,” Forister said. “We've always had a good relationship with our neighbors, and we want to keep that. A lot of effort went into minimizing these impacts.”
For some residents, like John and Marlyn Walters from Imperial, the concern wasn't whether or not the wells would be out of sight. The Walters were worried that drilling would depreciate the value of their property. And they said neighbors are worried about noise and pollution.
“We hope for the best, but have to prepare for the worst,” said John Walters.
Residents around the airport in Findlay and Moon will be hearing a lot more from Consol. The Cecil-based company has hired a contractor to start seismic testing. It's also looking to negotiate more deals with people who own private property around the airport.
The company needs to carve room for a six-mile pipeline stretching from the southern boundary of airport land to just past the Washington County border.
The company is looking for other private property owners who control gas rights outside the airport, Consol officials said. The company's wells will stretch horizontally as long as 11,000 feet, so it could direct wells off the airport, too, tapping gas from more land.
One Moon resident, Richard Evanko, 80, showed up to the afternoon meeting to get more information about how he can get a piece of the deal.
“It would be fantastic financially,” said Evanko, whose family owns a stake in 29 acres of land along Moon Enlow Road and Interstate 376 Business. “The noise is going to be there, so you might as well benefit.”
Consol mapped its pipelines to connect well pads with both gas lines and water supply. It needs to have pipelines ready to take gas to market before the wells come online. The water pipelines will connect three water storage pits on site, each large enough to hold about 10 million to 16 million gallons of fresh water and wastewater to supply hydraulic fracture operations.
That process requires millions of gallons of water to crack the underground shale more than a mile deep, and then spread sand through the cracks to keep them open and free the gas. Consol is talking to municipal water suppliers in Findlay and Moon about buying water to supply those operations, its officials said.
Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh area unemployment ticks up
- Hog Father’s eatery chain ferries barbecue to workers at gas well pads
- Consol Energy profits dip with low gas prices
- Mylan rejects Teva’s $40 billion takeover bid
- Oil’s rebound pushes up price at gas pumps
- Mixed economy likely means no Fed rate hike soon
- ESPN sues Verizon over unbundling plan for FiOS
- Starbucks glitch that closed stores shows reliance on registers
- Visa limits vex businesses
- Stocks slide in busy week of quarterly earnings reports
- Experts: If health insurers’ safeguard goes broke, consumers could pay