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Airport authority, Consol Energy finalize gas drilling deal

| Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 6:47 p.m.

Government and gas industry officials put the final signatures on Friday on a deal to allow gas drilling at the Pittsburgh International Airport, exchanged the deal's first payment and set aside a little money as a precaution.

Cecil-based Consol Energy Inc. wired $46.3 million dollars to the Allegheny County Airport Authority on Friday, completing a deal estimated to bring $500 million in lease and royalty payments. Consol is now free to go onto airport land and prepare for natural gas drilling, which could start as early as late 2014.

The company put $2.84 million into escrow until county and authority officials decide whether to allow drilling at the county airport in West Mifflin. They have said it is unlikely, at least any time soon. Consol put $1 million on hold while the authority finishes work to prove it controls mineral rights on a small portion of the 9,000 acres at the international airport, its attorney Jeff Letwin said.

“Today marks a significant milestone in Consol Energy's nearly 150-year history,” company officials said in an emailed statement. “We are excited to have officially been chosen as the partner on this project and are optimistic about its potential to lead our region forward.”

Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or tpuko@tribweb.com.

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