Denver International Airport has 76 wells on its property and in 2012 oil and gas production generated over $6.2 million.
"That revenue is not a large chunk of our budget," spokesman Heath Montgomery said. "For comparison, last year we saw record concession revenue of about $295 million. But oil and gas production is a way of generating non-airline revenue to help offset the airlines' cost of operating so the airport can remain globally competitive."
In Denver, Suncor buys the oil and Anadarko buys the natural gas while the airport owns the wells and manages the overall system.
With three Reserve Oil & Gas gas wells that began producing in November 2013, 790-acre Yeager Airport in Charleston, W.Va., isn't in the same league, drilling-wise, as Dallas and Denver.
"We expect a steady $40,000 a year in royalties over a 40-year period, said Yeager Airport director Rick Atkinson, "but for a budget of our size that's nothing to sneeze at."
Atkinson said the funds can't be used "to remodel the director's suite to look like I'm an oil baron," but the additional revenue stream will enable the airport to do small additional projects each year.
To get permission, the FAA must determine that under the National Environmental Protection Act, the wells would have no significant impact on the environment, Atkinson said. The other divisions of the FAA approve the wells from an air-space and air-traffic-control aspect and for impacts on future aviation developments at the airport, he said.
In Oklahoma City, three airports—Will Rogers World Airport and two general aviation/corporate airports—together have 87 active wells, generating more than $2.5 million in revenue in 2013, about 2.5 percent of the revenue for the city's Department of Airports.
Several oil rigs—some of them pumping—can be seen by passengers from the airfield.
"They're not just there for decoration," said airport spokeswoman Karen Carney.