BIG FLATS – The Elmira Corning Regional Airport (ELM) hosted the first Airports Natural Gas Conference on October 19th and 20th. Over 40 people were in attendance including airport managers from New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Texas.
The conference focused on a variety of topics including the geography of the Marcellus Shale, drilling techniques, and legal issues regarding leases as well as FAA compliance for airports, airport growth resulting from gas drilling activity, and case studies of airports with wells on-site. The FAA Eastern Region used this conference as a forum for rolling out their new guidance on mineral extraction on airports. Attendees all agreed that this was the most informative industry conference of the year.
Airport Manager Ann Crook shared the astounding growth in passenger activity that ELM has seen as a result of the natural gas industry. Crook noted that ELM has experienced a 33% increase in passengers from Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana since 2007. She also reported increased use of parking and rental car facilities resulting from this industry.
Quentin Hix, Airport Manager of the Denton, Texas Airport noted that his airport makes $250,000 per month in natural gas royalties and, to date, has received $8,500,000 in royalties, which are only a portion of the total revenues the airport receives from on-site wells.
The conference also included a tour of a well site in production in East Corning led by CJ Yorke of Talisman Energy.
Other presentations included a review of FAA siting criteria that apply to wells or other developments on airport property by Zachery Staff, an aviation planner with McFarland Johnson. In addition, Julie Wilson, Chesapeake Energy's Vice President of Urban Development gave a vibrant presentation about the many airport's Chesapeake has worked with in Texas.
Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli welcomed the group and praised the individuals in attendance for their foresight in learning the facts about natural gas drilling so that we can continue to benefit from the extraordinary opportunities that this industry brings the region. “Our airport is already experiencing growth due to the natural gas exploration south of our border in Pennsylvania,” stated Santulli. “We need to continue gathering information and developing plans and procedures to mitigate any negative impacts and maximize the benefits and ensure we are properly prepared before drilling begins in New York State,” added Santulli.
The conference was generously sponsored by McFarland Johnson, Inc. and the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce.