Natural Gas Boom Expands To New Industries
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Natural Gas Boom Expands To New Industries

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March 8, 2013, 2:05 pm
Energy
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Natural gas will inevitably deflate oil dominance as a transportation fuel
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Natural gas is moving quickly into mainstream America. One of the largest U.S. purchasers of diesel fuel, BNSF Railway Co., recently began testing natural gas to power its locomotives instead of costlier diesel fuel.

New research shows that U.S. natural-gas production will increase over the next thirty years.  This incentive provides significant proof that the energy upsurge transforming America will last for generations to come

Experts predict there is a 120 year plus supply of natural gas reserves, enough to keep the oil companies in a constant state of preoccupation.

The move to natural gas will inevitably deflate oil’s dominance as a transportation fuel and provide a new conduit for the surplus of inexpensive natural gas in North America.

Currently, the price of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) is $1.00 - $2.00 less per gallon compared to gasoline and diesel fuels. Additionally, natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and also a domestic resource.

New technology has unlocked the fuel from underground rock formations, which has caused natural-gas prices to plunge. Industries such as long haul shipping and transportation as well as local transport and fleet operators have begun the transition to natural gas.  Now, that freight rail may become part of the natural gas boom, it could result in the most far-reaching changes to the railroad industry since its inception.

"This could be a transformational event for our railroad," BNSF Chief Executive Matt Rose said of the plan, which hasn't been publicly announced. Shifting to natural gas would "rank right up there" with the industry's historic transition away from steam engines last century, he said.

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. has been in discussions with a number of railroads and other companies in the rail business about their interest in transitioning to natural gas fuel.

Clean Energy Fuels Corp., the largest provider of natural gas in the transportation industry, has been establishing its own national station footprint across the country to help usher in the new age of cleaner energy and reduce Greenhouse Gases (GHG’s) and America’s reliance on expensive, imported oil.

“This year is already shaping up to surpass 2012 in the drive towards natural gas,” Clean Energy president and CEO Andrew Littlefair said in a release. “After taking the ‘chicken versus egg’ issue off the table as we completed the first 70 stations of America’s Natural Gas Highway, and with gasoline and diesel prices at near historic high levels, we are seeing significant interest and movement by the long-haul trucking industry to make the switch to natural gas. I’m also pleased by Clean Energy’s growth in our core businesses of refuse, transit and airports with a total of 127 new station projects completed in 2012, an 87% increase in overall station construction over 2011,” Littlefair said.

Clean Energy says that with the current national average price of $4.14 a gallon for diesel and $3.74 for gasoline (as of February 18), “both fuels are significantly more expensive than natural gas at the pump, up to $1.50 depending on local market conditions.”

As Clean Energy continues to build out its America’s Natural Gas Highway, they have signed agreements with regional partners that provide a network of locations for additional natural gas fueling stations. 

Author: Michael Orgera

Michael Orgera is the Energy Reporter for Jornal.us where his articles focus on energy, clean technologies, and environmental issues. Mr. Orgera studies at Seton Hall University School of Law, and is a Contributing Writer for the law school's online student newspaper, The Cross Examiner. He also studies at Rutgers Business School with a concentration in Finance. Mr. Orgera has previously worked for Philips Lighting North America's Legal Department, Avaya's Intellectual Property Law and Litigation Department, SolarCity, and Clean Energy Fuels Corporation. He can be reached at orgerami@shu.edu.


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