As reported last year in this blog, the expansion of oil and gas exploration in the U.S. and Canada in recent years is having a noticeable impact on the activity at general aviation airports located in or near the fields.
For each field, 100 or more service and equipment companies can be involved, and many of these move personnel and equipment by airplanes and helicopters.
An article in the online publication AviationPros this week described the growth at formerly sleepy rural airports in the Bakken formation of North Dakota: “The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission doled out its highest amount of grant money ever this year, meaning small airports in the area are able to take on large improvement projects, like new hangars, revamped runways or new terminals,” said Kyle Wanner, aviation planner with the aeronautics commission. The commission was able to give out heftier grants this year, for the 2013-2015 biennium, because it received oil impact money, Wanner said. “North Dakota Legislature and government allocated $60 million for oil impact on the airports in western North Dakota,” and an additional $6 million for airports elsewhere in the state, he said. Because of the oil boom, “most airports in the state are being hit with business traffic that wasn’t there before.”
The expansion of these activities has led to a significant drop in natural gas prices, making its use in vehicles and even aircraft a potential. General Aviation News reported on a dual-fuel gas/avgas Aviat Husky in this article from July 30.
To see if your airport might benefit from the oil and gas boom, look for its location on this online map of major shale formations in the country. Many, like the Cumnock formation in your blogger’s state of North Carolina, have yet to be explored.