Range Resources Corp. and EQT Corp. were given the go-ahead to drill under 135 acres of land on Thursday after the Washington County, PA Commissioners unanimously approved a permit for the land which sits beneath the Washington County Airport.

The airport, constructed in the 1940s on 400 acres of land, does not provide or service commercial flights. The 3-0 vote means the county, located in Southwest Pennsylvania where operators continue to increase drilling activity in the Marcellus and Upper Devonian Shale formations, will get $6,400 per-acre for a total lease bonus of $864,000 with an 18.25% royalty on production.

The county has generated millions of dollars on drilling deals in recent years to make upgrades to public facilities and land. The commissioners said they will use the money to make improvements at the airport. A similar deal was struck in February 2013, albeit on a much larger scale, between Allegheny County officials and Pennsylvania-based Consol Energy Inc. Under that deal, Consol will drill six pads across 8,800 acres of land at the Pittsburgh International Airport (see Shale Daily, Feb. 21, 2013).

That project could generate up to $500 million for Allegheny County over the next 20 years, with a signing bonus of $50 million already delivered and 18% in royalties on all future production.

The deal at the Washington County Airport includes mineral rights only, no surface rights were granted under the approved permit.