by Malia Spencer Reporter- Pittsburgh Business Times
Consol Energy Inc. unveiled its drilling plan for the Pittsburgh International Airport property, which includes a total of 47 Marcellus wells and the potential to tap the Upper Devonian formation. The plans include six well pads.Construction of the well sites, three centralized impoundments and pipelines are expected to start in the second quarter of 2014. Drilling is anticipated to begin in July 2014 with two vertical rigs. Consol (NYSE: CNX) noted it is still developing an environmental assessment expected to be submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration by December. Working through the FAA process and the environmental assessment merely ads another layer to the company’s normal planning, said Joseph Zoka, general manager of Central Pennsylvania gas operations. In fact, the company said it has not had to change its existing well designs to meet the environmental assessment.
Consol and the Allegheny County Airport Authority are sponsoring a workshop tonight in Coraopolis to go over the drilling plans. Another workshop is planned for November. As part of the project, roughly 17 miles of gas line and 12 miles of water line will be used to move the gas to market and provide water for well completions, the company said. The water is expected to be drawn partially from nearby municipalities, either Moon or Findlay, Zoka said. The company is in discussions for sourcing water, but, Zoka said water will be reused from well to well until all the wells are in production. After the final well, the water will be disposed off site.
Once the wells are completed, the three impoundments, which are expected to hold fresh water, recycled water and production brine, will be removed and the sites restored, said Craig Neal, vice president of Northern Appalachia operations at Consol. It’s expected the impoundments would be on site for four to five years. Seismic testing is slated to start in late October and will have crews working along 33 miles of roadway for a one- to two-week period. Government officials on hand for the plan’s unveiling touted the project as an economic driver for the region, and a way for the airport to generate revenue for improvements and to lower costs for airlines.
Matt Drozd, a county councilman representing the area around the airport, came to the event with questions from constituents but also word of an informal survey he took by calling 200 random residents. He said 90 percent of the people he talked to wanted the drilling to occur. About 5 percent had concerns, he said and wanted to make sure the project had proper oversight.
Those concerns were:
- Sound from well pad No. 2 and concerns over the distance from nearby homes
- Questions about groundwater monitoring once activity begins
- Road conditions
- Questions about what happens in an emergency
Consol said all these issues are being addressed in the planning process. Airport officials also said they are working with staff at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which partnered with Chesapeake Energy to drill its property back in 2006.
Dallas/Fort Worth brought in $20.1 million from its natural gas development in 2011, according to that airport’s annual report. In total, Dallas/Forth Worth has received more than $290 million in natural gas revenue between 2007 and 2011. That includes a $181 million signing bonus for its 18,000 acres.
Consol’s deal with Pittsburgh International is estimated at $500 million over 20 years.