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Pittsburgh airport OK's $500M gas drilling deal

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 8, 2013 at 5:03 pm •  Published: February 8, 2013

In 2006 the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport received a $181 million bonus for rights on about 18,000 acres of land, plus a royalty of 25 percent on all future production.

Jerry Simmons, the executive director of the National Association of Royalty Owners in Tulsa, Okla., said he found it "a little surprising" that Pittsburgh officials couldn't negotiate a higher royalty rate. He noted that since the Pittsburgh airport controls 9,000 acres they're in a stronger position to negotiate, compared to small landowners.

But Simmons said he also tells people that "when you get to the point when you think you got a good deal, take it," since royalty rates vary from about 12.5 percent up to 25 percent. Davin, the authority treasurer, said officials believed the 18 percent rate to be "very good."

Simmons said he doesn't know of any other major airports in the northeast that have signed significant deals, and much of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale is far from major population centers. But many municipalities in Pennsylvania have leased smaller parcels or have debated doing so, and the state has also signed drilling leases for public forests and game lands.

Marcellus Protest, a local group that's critical of the drilling industry, complained about a lack of hearings in nearby communities and that no environmental impact study was done in advance.

The Marcellus lies below parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and New York.