Pittsburgh airport OK's $500M gas-drilling deal

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Allegheny County Airport Authority has approved a $500 million deal with Consol Energy for rights to drill for natural gas and oil at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The authority board approved the deal today.

Consol in December initially bid $20.8 million for drilling rights, which will include ongoing 18 percent royalties.

County officials say the energy firm later agreed to increase its initial payment to $50 million and the royalties are expected to bring in $450 million more over the next 20 years. Consol is expected to drill at least 50 wells over 9,000 acres.

Airport officials want to use at least some of the revenue to lower gate fees in hopes of attracting more flights to the airport about 10 miles west of the city.

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