CONSOL ENERGY AND ALLEGHENY COUNTY AIRPORT AUTHORITY SUBMIT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT TO FAA FOR OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT AT PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Pittsburgh, PA – December 20, 2013 – CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) announced plans to replace traditional diesel drilling equipment with electric powered equipment during oil and gas development on Pittsburgh International Airport property. The announcement was made during the second and final public workshop held on Tuesday.
The shift from diesel to electric powered equipment will significantly reduce emissions and noise during development. This will be the first time CONSOL Energy has used electric to drill.
“Technology and innovation continue to define the shale opportunity and CONSOL Energy continues to push the envelope to find new and better ways to unlock the potential of this once-in-a-generation opportunity,” commented Nicholas J. DeIuliis, president of CONSOL Energy.
CONSOL Energy and the Allegheny County Airport Authority (ACAA) also announced that the environmental assessment was submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for review.
The environmental assessment (EA) is required by the FAA to identify potential impacts and mitigation related to oil and gas drilling at Pittsburgh International Airport. The environmental assessment process includes public input on the project which will be accepted through December 31, 2013. Comments can be provided through flypittsburgh.com or can be submitted at the final public workshop.
The purpose of the final Public Workshop for the EA is to follow up on the workshop that was held in August and present the draft environmental findings of the EA study.
The proposed drilling plan outlines six well pad locations and three water impoundments. The plan proposes a total of 45 Marcellus wells, with the future potential to drill Upper Devonian wells. CONSOL Energy is hopeful that this horizon can be built into its operational objectives for the airport project. However, the company will not have clarity on its potential until it begins drilling and can conduct analysis of core testing, which is estimated to occur in third quarter 2014. Any development of the Upper Devonian formation would occur on the existing pad locations and utilize the same infrastructure to maintain operational efficiency, minimize environmental impacts, and maximize production potential.
CONSOL Energy projects that construction of the well sites, impoundments and pipelines will begin in second quarter 2014. Drilling activity is expected to commence in July 2014 with two vertical rigs. Upon the start of horizontal rig operations, the vertical rig count will be reduced to one and both units will run for the duration of the project through 2018. Approximately 17 miles of gas line (11 on ACAA property) and 12 miles of water line will be utilized to deliver gas to market and provide water for well completions. CONSOL Energy has no plans to construct new public roads on airport property and will be able to rely on existing roads without any disruption to daily airport traffic.
“The economic opportunity that this project brings to our region is unparalleled. This is a huge public works project, totaling nearly $500 million, and will be putting many of our people to work,” added Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Chief Executive. “The expected revenues have already resulted in reducing the fees for airlines operating at PIT which will help in developing new air service. It ensures that our taxpayers do not have to pick up additional costs at the airport, and allows us to support infrastructure and other development near the airport easing the burden on taxpayer funds, which, ultimately, leads to additional jobs and growth for our region.”
"Our abundant reserves of safe, reliable natural gas are bringing thousands of jobs to the region and much-needed revenue into Pittsburgh International Airport so it once again serves as an economic catalyst for Southwestern Pennsylvania," said Rep. Tim Murphy (PA-18).
Rhea Engineers & Consultants of Gibsonia, PA, has been retained by CONSOL Energy to manage the Environmental Assessment for the PIT project. Members of the Rhea team participated in both the Public Official and Public Workshop sessions today, during which they assisted in explaining the various requirements of the Environmental Assessment, including purpose and need, draft environmental findings, traffic, noise, stream/wetland impacts, threatened and endangered species coordination, emissions, waste, social impacts, lighting, energy source, water quality and safety.
“We are at an important point in the planning process where we encourage residents to learn more about oil and gas development plans at Pittsburgh International Airport. As part of the environmental assessment process, public comments and questions are being accepted at FlyPittsburgh.com and will be included in the FAA proposal,” said David Minnotte, Chairman, Allegheny County Airport Authority.
Seismic testing at Pittsburgh International Airport began in late October. Survey and recording crews will gather data over a 1-2 week period that will parallel approx. 33 miles of surrounding roadways. CONSOL Energy also engaged a consultant to conduct a sound study, which entailed recording sound levels at a range of lengths from several of its current Marcellus locations during various stages of development. This process has been completed and early results indicate that drilling activities will meet the township ordinance and will not result in a significant impact.
For more information on oil and gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport, visit www.FlyPittsburgh.com/energy.