Allegheny county may get $40M gas drilling bonus

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PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says the local airport authority could get a $35 or $40 million upfront payment by leasing public land for gas drilling. That's almost double initial estimates.

Fitzgerald says Thursday that a deal with Consol Energy Inc. could also provide another $3 million to $4 million in yearly royalty payments.

The final contract to drill on about 9,200 acres at Pittsburgh International Airport is still being negotiated, Fitzgerald says.

The county chose Consol last month even though its initial bid with $21 million bonus appeared to be lower than one from EQT Corp. But officials said the Consol offer could end up being more profitable over the long term.