What Can’t Natural Gas Do?

Heat homes and keep us warm. Fuel our vehicles. Power hydraulic fracturing and drilling operations. These are just a few of the many and growing ways America’s abundant, clean-burning natural gas resources our improving our lives while strengthening our economy and our environment. Here’s a quick overview of natural gas use-related stories from the weekend.

AT THE WELLSITE

  • “Natural gas that’s unlocked by hydraulic fracturing is now being used to power the process”: Advances in hydraulic fracturing technology have powered the American natural gas boom. And now hydraulic fracturing could be increasingly powered by the very fuel it has been so successful in coaxing up from the depths. … It’s the latest way for drillers to become consumers of the product that they are making broadly available in large amounts — and extremely cheap. … After the conversion, the engines will run on cheaper natural gas, or a blend of diesel and natural gas. That brings down costs and, theoretically, cuts down the sooty exhaust that comes from burning diesel. “You’re going to see this spreading quite rapidly across the industry,” said Douglas E. Kuntz, president and CEO of Pennsylvania General Energy Co. “As the technology evolves, you’ll see more companies across the country doing more natural gas fueling of this equipment.” A number of increasingly cost-conscious oil- and gas-field companies are already using natural gas to run trucks and drilling rigs. But what makes the conversion of the hydraulic fracturing pump engines to natural gas particularly challenging is the sheer number of engines running at once, and the amount of horsepower necessary to power the pumps. PGE and contractor Universal Well Services are converting a 16-engine pumping unit called a “frack spread” so that the engines will accept a blend of 70 percent natural gas and 30 percent diesel. (Associated Press, 1/20/13)
  • “Technological advances pave the way for companies to become both producers and consumers”: From Pennsylvania to Texas, diesel pump engines are being converted to operate on a cheaper bi-fuel mix of diesel and natural gas. Douglas E. Kuntz, President and CEO of Pennsylvania General Energy Co. (PGE) said the new mixture would significantly cut costs. … Kuntz said the conversion to the bi-fuel blend is not limited to on-site machinery, but could include trucks and other transportation vehicles as well. “As you can see, across our industry, as we have the natural gas available, obviously in the field where we’re developing these wells, using it on-site makes a lot of sense from a number of aspects,” Kuntz said. … Because of the natural gas component, the engines will give off less sooty exhaust and other types of pollution. … PGE plans to drill around 40 new Marcellus Shale wells this year with bi-fuel equipment, saving about 750,000 gallons of diesel. (WESA, 1/21/13)

IN YOUR CAR

  • “Natural Gas at the Pumps in Bradford County”: There is a new fuel on the block in part of Bradford County, the kind of fuel that can be used in a car or truck. A mini mart in the Towanda area cut the ribbon on new compressed natural gas pumps. Compressed natural gas, or CNG, is an alternative to the gasoline many of us have been using for ages. It comes from drilling in the Marcellus Shale and is now being delivered right to the pumps at the Dandy Mini Mart near Towanda. Instead of pumping gasoline from the pumps, it is compressed natural gas meant to fuel cars and trucks designed for it. “We decided we need to take this leap of faith. If this market is going to develop here in northeastern PA, companies like us need to lay the groundwork for it,” said Duane Phillips of Dandy Mini Marts. … For now, it will mostly be the gas industry using them to fill up. Chesapeake Energy plans to convert more than 5,000 vehicles to CNG over the next two years. “Most importantly when you’re able to drill the gas out of your state, and you’re abundant under your feet and you can use it for transportation, cutting your costs in half,” said William Freeman of Chesapeake Energy. … At about $2 per gallon, compressed natural gas looks appealing to folks who pay nearly double that for regular unleaded gasoline. (WNEP-TV, 1/18/13)


Click HERE to watch this WNEP-TV news report.

  • “It’s official: Ribbon cutting marks opening of first CNG station in area”: When the natural gas industry began producing natural gas from the Marcellus Shale several years ago, it quickly gained a local reputation as being a cheaper, cleaner fuel. Since then, local people and businesses have been striving for ways to incorporate the alternative fuel into theirs and other’s lives. With gasoline prices continuously increasing, using natural gas as a vehicular fuel was at the forefront of most people’s minds. It was certainly at the forefront of the minds of the people through the local Dandy Mini-Marts chain, and, through much research and hard work, they turned that idea into a reality, marking the opening of the area’s first Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling station with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday in North Towanda. “This is a very exciting time for us,” Owner Randy Williams said. “This is a new direction for us, our business and the county.” Representatives of the Dandy Mini Mart chain first began looking at the idea for a local CNG station through a visit to Chesapeake Energy’s headquarters in Oklahoma City. (Daily Review, 01/19/13)

(One of the main advantages of CNG as an alternative fuel is its pricing, which is typically much less than gasoline.)

  • “Dandy Mini Marts betting on compressed natural gas”: On Friday, Sayre-based Dandy Mini Marts Inc. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for northern Pennsylvania’s first public CNG fueling station. Two credit-card reading pump stations, storage tanks, a sign displaying the product and price, a compressor and a dryer to dry the gas before it is pumped into a vehicle were installed for Dandy by Beavers Petroleum Equipment of Horseheads. The setup is at the Dandy fueling station on Reuter Boulevard in Towanda. Dandy has three more CNG stations planned, with the second one scheduled for an early March opening in Athens. Other locations will include the Dandy Mini Marts in Elmira and Mansfield. (Star-Gazette, 1/19/13)

(The Dandy Mini Mart fueling station on Reuter Boulevard in Towanda held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for its compressed natural gas alternative fuel option. Dandy will be adding the option at some of its other locations.)

  • “Natural gas vehicles moving forward”: Detroit is beginning to produce vehicles that can run on both natural gas and regular gasoline. … Chesapeake Energy’s Mike Narcavage said, “By 2020, the International Energy Association predicts world oil consumption will increase 60 percent. We’re going to have to find an awful lot of oil to meet that demand.” In 2011, the United States imported 62 percent of its oil – 362 million barrels. … “The use of natural gas-driven vehicles in the world has risen dramatically. We’re languishing behind Africa. Asia and the Pacific-rim countries, even Europe and Latin America, have taken off,” he added. “The best thing about natural gas is that it is American. We can keep it here, and use it here. It’s clean. It’s affordable.” … Narcavage said last month Ford rolled out its F-250 pickup truck in a bi-fuel compressed-natural-gas version. Next year, Dodge Ram and Chevy Silverado will also come direct from the factory as bi-fuel vehicles. … Jim Corazza, president of Fairway Chevrolet in Hazle Township, said the Chevy Silverado bi-fuel pickup truck goes into production next spring. (Standard Speaker, 1/20/13)