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Politics & Government

Airport Goes With Low Bidder in Shale Lease

The Allegheny County Airport Authority will negotiate with Consol Energy for rights to drill for natural gas and oil at Pittsburgh International Airport even though a competitor's bid appeared to be twice as large.

The authority last week said EQT Corp. bid roughly $44 million while Consol bid $20.8 million — but also included a $2.1 million check as a deposit. Both bids also include ongoing 18 percent royalties once drilling begins.

Executive director Bradley Penrod said the authority board approved Consol's bid as the "best value" after a "very, very careful review" at a meeting Friday. But Penrod wouldn't say at the meeting if the lack of a deposit hurt EQT's bid or what other factors made Consol's bid better.

Authority spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny referred messages requesting an additional explanation to Penrod, who did not immediately respond.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.