Consol Energy Inc. has cleared its last major hurdle for plans to drill up to 45 Marcellus Shale wells on six pads in a first-of-its-kind project in Pennsylvania at the Pittsburgh International Airport.
On Wednesday, the Findlay Township Board of Supervisors voted to approve a required conditional use permit allowing natural gas development to commence. Consol’s Kate O'Donovan said construction at the site could begin as early as next week, while the company plans to move a vertical rig there in either June or July when drilling will start.
The company has billed its project at the airport as a "flagship endeavor." It's been in the works for more than a year, with Consol coordinating with federal agencies, the Allegheny County Airport Authority and others to move the project forward. The Allegheny County Council gave the project one of its first green lights by voting to approve it in February 2013 (see Shale Daily, Feb. 21, 2013).
Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration signed off on an environmental assessment required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, making a crucial "finding of no significant impact/record of decision" (see Shale Daily, March 28, 2014).
Findlay Township, where part of the project will take place, imposed 23 conditions on Consol, including the inability to work at night, Sundays or holidays; regularly scheduled community meetings; a complaint line and the stipulation that it must build a wall to hide some well pads from a nearby highway.
According to local news media reports, one Findlay supervisor asked Consol to move a well pad, citing complaints from nearby residents who said it would be too close to their homes, but the project was approved without such a change.
Findlay's conditions come along with a number of others to which Consol has agreed. To comply with federal environmental regulations, the company said in December that it would use electric engines for the first time to provide most of the power for its rigs at the airport (see Shale Daily, Dec. 18, 2013).
O'Donovan told NGI's Shale Daily that the estimated recoverable natural gas associated with the project is 0.8-0.28 Tcf.