Monday, June 18, 2012

Vegetable Oil vs. Natural Gas

The Wall Street Journal has a pretty comprehensive look at the whys... and why nots... of using natural gas as an automobile fuel in the US.  See:  America, start your natural gas engines. by Tom Fowler.

Worth a read since so much of the hope for natural gas markets.. and thus natural gas prices.. and thus royalties and the long term economic impact of natural gas production in Pennsylvania and environs.. seems to point back to this vision of America's automobile fleet switching away from gasoline. 

I did recently observe the second vehicle I've ever seen using the natural gas station opened to much fanfare in the Strip District.   On closer inspection it turned out to be a vehicle owned by Equitable Gas itself as was advertised throughout its body paint.   So in a sense that may not count.  I am still really curious if there is a single resident of the City of Pittsburgh using a natural gas vehicle for their private conveyance?  Anyone? Just one?  Years ago there clearly were some folks in Friendship with a natural gas vehicle, but I don't think there are any today.  So I am looking for someone other than someone working for the gas companies or otherwise directly subsidized to use such a vehicle I will stipulate.  I bet we could get you some media coverage if you exist.  Or is it the case that privately owned Natural Gas vehicles are outnumbered in the city of Pittsburgh by cars running on Vegetable Oil? Just asking the question is all. 

Anyway... the article points out some of the hurdles to getting natural gas into US automobiles; hurdles that the industry seems to just skip over if you read most of their prognostications.  For sure it's not impossible by any means. I pointed out long ago that in the Netherlands there is a wide infrastructure at commercial stations to provide LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) which many cars there run.  Still I wonder what the betting line would be on when the first station taking Fuelperks for natural gas comes into existance within Allegheny County.


Anonymous BrianTH said...

Last I knew you couldn't find a NG Civic in the Pittsburgh area even if you wanted one.

Anyway, obviously the price difference for passenger cars needs to come down, particularly since the likely early adopters may not be high-mileage folks.

Monday, June 18, 2012 7:25:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

By the way, I hadn't thought about it before, but if a NG vehicle qualified for programs like fuelperks on a gasoline-gallon-equivalent (GGE) basis, that would give it a bit of a competitive boost against technologies offering savings primarily through GGE-efficiency (e.g., diesels, hybrids, and high-mileage gasoline engines).

Monday, June 18, 2012 7:49:00 AM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

I attended a seminar in Oil City a week ago and this is moving faster than people are aware of. The financial incentive is just too big to ignore. One presenter said that a home filling unit for $1500 will be announced later this year. And as part of the Act 13, $20,000,000 of the gas drilling impact fees will be set aside to reimburse fleet owners for converting their vehicles to nat gas.

CleanFuels is putting in LNG stations across the country and by the end of the year truckers can drive I80, I70, I40, and I95 end to end on LNG.

And last Tuesday I met with the owner on CNGOneSource, a company in Franklin Pa that does vehicle conversions, home filling units, and public stations. He announced on Friday that they are going to build a LNG/CNG station in Brookfield which is the halfway point between NYC and Chicago.

Monday, June 18, 2012 9:37:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

It isn't exactly Fuelperks, but if you own the only Chevy Volt in Greenfield, Giant Eagle will apparently let you charge your car 24 hours a day.

Monday, June 18, 2012 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger BrianTH said...

An affordable home filling unit would obviously be very helpful. However, if the NG cars themselves continue to carry a $6K price premium over an efficient gasoline model, you are still going to have limited consumer demand.

But if with both the filling unit and the car itself you are, say, talking under $5K, then you might have something.

Monday, June 18, 2012 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger BrianTH said...

By the way, my last comment was regarding non-fleet sales--obviously fleets can often benefit even at current price levels.

Monday, June 18, 2012 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

I should have added that the state reimbursement program covers 50% of the cost of converting fleet vehicles. You need five or more in a fleet and I don't know if it covers the cost of a filling station.

Monday, June 18, 2012 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

still just looking for one private vehicle in the city.. just one.

I may send a note to Katie... The MSC should have a contest to give one away or something.

That or convert an AMC Pacer to NatGas.. guaranteed to turn heads and generate some earned media.

Monday, June 18, 2012 8:55:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Speaking of natural gas being cheap, are they still burning it off at some wells? I just flew into town and there were two places that were isolated islands of light with a bigger orange light clearly raised higher than the ordinary lights. I can't figure what else it could be that I saw, but I don't know much about it.

Monday, June 18, 2012 10:10:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

And if Ken is reading, the 28x at 10pm just did not show at all.

Monday, June 18, 2012 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Rubbish burning?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 12:03:00 AM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

They are flaring new wells.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 9:05:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

Thanks Wiz. I didn't know. I don't think it was rubbish. The two flames were miles apart but looked exactly the same.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 9:28:00 AM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

They are flaring off excess gas in N Dakota and Texas because transportation is too expensive but not in Pa as Pa is close to markets. Here they shut in wells that don't need.

They always flare off new wells for several days, sometimes even more than a week, to get all the last bit of water out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 10:25:00 AM  
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Monday, October 15, 2012 1:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Junk Car said...

Very informative post. Natural gas is by far used more in the junk car industry, residents, and businesses. In the junk car market it is used to run heavy machinery, crushers, and much more.
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