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Natural Gas Gaining Momentum

I have said a number of times that I would prefer to take the natural gas we use to make ethanol and just use it directly in compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. Natural gas burns very cleanly, and I think that would be a lot more efficient than the convoluted scheme by which we turn natural gas into ethanol. One of the criticisms I sometimes encounter from ethanol advocates is that we would have to build out a new CNG infrastructure to do so. I always point out that the only reason we have built an E85 infrastructure is that taxpayers funded it.

But I learned something of interest today when I was flying back to Texas from Europe. I am currently reading Oil 101by Morgan Downey. This is a really great book by the way, which I will review as soon as I finish it. Downey covers natural gas in some detail, and the book states that there are 1600 retail stations in the U.S. selling CNG. That made me wonder how many stations are selling E85, since some ethanol advocates have claimed to me that we are already too far down the E85 path to start down a CNG path. It turns out that today there are 1900 stations selling E85, but the number only went past 1600 in 2008. So CNG isn’t operating from as big a deficit as some of my ethanol friends would like to believe. CNG just hasn’t benefited from the same kind of legislation that has benefited ethanol.

But the landscape may be starting to change. Of course T. Boone Pickens has been pushing CNG hard as part of his Pickens Plan. Then last month AT&T announced they would invest $565 million to replace 15,000 gasoline-powered fleet vehicles with compressed natural gas and hybrid engines. And yesterday Reps. Dan Boren (D-Okla.), John B. Larson (D-Conn.) and John Sullivan (R-Okla.) introduced new legislation to further incentivize CNG:

House members plan bill to expand NGV use

Known as the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions (NAT GAS) Act, the bill also would create a new tax credit for automakers which produce natural gas and bi-fueled vehicles, the three federal lawmakers said. Currently, all major automakers manufacture NGVs for overseas markets and this provision is critical to encourage them to begin offering NGVs in the United States, they said.

Energy investor T. Boone Pickens applauded the measure. “America’s national and economic security depends on moving off foreign oil as quickly as possible. Natural gas is the cleanest, most abundant, most economic fuel to replace imported diesel fuel. The US has enough natural gas to last more than 118 years; we should turn to it as an immediately replacement for foreign oil in fleets and heavy-duty vehicles,” he said.

I will have to look into the context of that 118 year claim a bit later. But the U.S. is certainly in better shape with respect to our gas reserves than we are with our oil reserves. Further, gas can be produced renewably from the same feedstocks that go into any other biofuel.

Of all the schemes promoting energy independence, a massive expansion of CNG just might have a chance of displacing enough oil to achieve at least independence from the Mideast and Venezuela. Again, it will take many components, but I don’t see any possible way it can be achieved without a healthy contribution from domestic oil and gas production.

Now, since I have been up for 24 hours, I am going to call it a day.

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April 3, 2009 - Posted by | CNG, Morgan Downey, natural gas

65 Comments

  1. Leaving aside a lot of other arguments, I think my first one would be that ethanol will mix with gasoline, and that we could replace 30% of our gasoline w/o putting ANY new cars/technology on the road.

    Comment by rufus | April 3, 2009

  2. Leaving aside a lot of other arguments, I think my first one would be that ethanol will mix with gasoline, and that we could replace 30% of our gasoline w/o putting ANY new cars/technology on the road.

    Comment by rufus | April 3, 2009

  3. Clearly there is plenty of room for both biofuels and natural gas. However, consumer acceptance in of natural gas has been close to zero in the US even when it was very cheap. I would suggest that there is not momentum for natural gas press releases from Texas based companies aside. Billy Sol Estes meet T Bone.

    Kit

    Comment by Kit P | April 3, 2009

  4. Clearly there is plenty of room for both biofuels and natural gas. However, consumer acceptance in of natural gas has been close to zero in the US even when it was very cheap. I would suggest that there is not momentum for natural gas press releases from Texas based companies aside. Billy Sol Estes meet T Bone.

    Kit

    Comment by Kit P | April 3, 2009

  5. It might be useful to have a look at CHP – combined heat and power. In Germany many suppliers now offer units small enough for 1-2-family homes and appartment buildings. It takes about 1/3 as much gas to produce the same amount of electricity IN these buildings at it would to produce the same amount of power in distant power plants and then transport it. And it heats the house instead of venting the heat directly into the atmosphere.

    Subsidies are still required to make the system financially attractive for home owners (i.e. they get to sell the excess power back to utilities for a fixed price). Still the cost of such programs probably compares very favorably to a massive buildup of CNG infrastructure. In cold environments (with long heating periods) where many buildings are already connected to natural gas, this system can be very attactive. I suspect it could gain market share much faster and displace more oil than CNG-powered cars.

    On the other hand CNG-cars and CHP-homes would complement each other rather well, seasonally speaking: more driving in the summer, and more heating in the winter.

    Comment by Brian | April 3, 2009

  6. It might be useful to have a look at CHP – combined heat and power. In Germany many suppliers now offer units small enough for 1-2-family homes and appartment buildings. It takes about 1/3 as much gas to produce the same amount of electricity IN these buildings at it would to produce the same amount of power in distant power plants and then transport it. And it heats the house instead of venting the heat directly into the atmosphere.

    Subsidies are still required to make the system financially attractive for home owners (i.e. they get to sell the excess power back to utilities for a fixed price). Still the cost of such programs probably compares very favorably to a massive buildup of CNG infrastructure. In cold environments (with long heating periods) where many buildings are already connected to natural gas, this system can be very attactive. I suspect it could gain market share much faster and displace more oil than CNG-powered cars.

    On the other hand CNG-cars and CHP-homes would complement each other rather well, seasonally speaking: more driving in the summer, and more heating in the winter.

    Comment by Brian | April 3, 2009

  7. we could replace 30% of our gasoline

    What assumptions are you making? First off, we can’t come close to 30% of our current gasoline usage with ethanol. That would require more than 50 billion gallons and that’s with making generous assumptions (-20%) about the BTU penalty. That’s far above the mandate, and not too many people who have taken a serious look think we will even reach the present mandate of 36 billion gallons. I guarantee that we won’t reach it with cellulosic ethanol.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  8. However, consumer acceptance in of natural gas has been close to zero in the US even when it was very cheap.

    Had I not been so brain-dead last night I would have remembered another bit from Downey’s book: 20% of new fleet vehicles are CNG. That is far better than what E85 has managed despite favorable tax treatment. In fact, in the most famous recent example of a fleet experiment with E85:

    Ethanol Vehicles for Post Office Burn More Gas, Get Fewer Miles

    May 21 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Postal Service purchased more than 30,000 ethanol-capable trucks and minivans from 1999 to 2005, making it the biggest American buyer of alternative-fuel vehicles. Gasoline consumption jumped by more than 1.5 million gallons as a result.

    “You’re getting fewer miles per gallon, and it’s costing us more,” Walt O’Tormey, the Postal Service’s Washington-based vice president of engineering, said in an interview. The agency may buy electric vehicles instead, he said.

    I can certainly find some fault with the way they went about the experiment (I don’t know why they felt they needed bigger engines) but in fact the USPS asked for and received waivers from the E85 requirement even right in the heart of corn country (see this story).

    Further, do you know who has a much bigger CNG fleet than the U.S.? Brazil for one. Despite all of that ethanol and lower population than the U.S., they have gone for CNG. Why do you think that is?

    I would suggest that there is not momentum for natural gas press releases from Texas based companies aside.

    When a major piece of legislation involving CNG is introduced, I think that’s newsworthy. Plus, I think CNG is gaining a lot more ground than you seem to realize.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  9. However, consumer acceptance in of natural gas has been close to zero in the US even when it was very cheap.

    Had I not been so brain-dead last night I would have remembered another bit from Downey’s book: 20% of new fleet vehicles are CNG. That is far better than what E85 has managed despite favorable tax treatment. In fact, in the most famous recent example of a fleet experiment with E85:

    Ethanol Vehicles for Post Office Burn More Gas, Get Fewer Miles

    May 21 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Postal Service purchased more than 30,000 ethanol-capable trucks and minivans from 1999 to 2005, making it the biggest American buyer of alternative-fuel vehicles. Gasoline consumption jumped by more than 1.5 million gallons as a result.

    “You’re getting fewer miles per gallon, and it’s costing us more,” Walt O’Tormey, the Postal Service’s Washington-based vice president of engineering, said in an interview. The agency may buy electric vehicles instead, he said.

    I can certainly find some fault with the way they went about the experiment (I don’t know why they felt they needed bigger engines) but in fact the USPS asked for and received waivers from the E85 requirement even right in the heart of corn country (see this story).

    Further, do you know who has a much bigger CNG fleet than the U.S.? Brazil for one. Despite all of that ethanol and lower population than the U.S., they have gone for CNG. Why do you think that is?

    I would suggest that there is not momentum for natural gas press releases from Texas based companies aside.

    When a major piece of legislation involving CNG is introduced, I think that’s newsworthy. Plus, I think CNG is gaining a lot more ground than you seem to realize.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  10. “…that would be a lot more efficient than the convoluted scheme by which we turn natural gas into ethanol.”

    Agree, but that would also take a lot of corn farmers out of the revenue stream and make for a bunch of very angry Corn Belt politicians.

    Comment by Ned Winchester | April 3, 2009

  11. “…that would be a lot more efficient than the convoluted scheme by which we turn natural gas into ethanol.”

    Agree, but that would also take a lot of corn farmers out of the revenue stream and make for a bunch of very angry Corn Belt politicians.

    Comment by Ned Winchester | April 3, 2009

  12. “CNG is gaining a lot more ground than you seem to realize.”

    Oh Gosh, I do not think so. Introducing legislation is not the same as passing legislation. Passing legislation will not ensure more use of whatever.

    “Postal Service’s”

    “20% of new fleet vehicles are CNG”

    Sounds like something a New York based American commodities trader would make up.

    So RR like you did before, provide me a link to a company that provides good info on CNG.

    Comment by Kit P | April 3, 2009

  13. “CNG is gaining a lot more ground than you seem to realize.”

    Oh Gosh, I do not think so. Introducing legislation is not the same as passing legislation. Passing legislation will not ensure more use of whatever.

    “Postal Service’s”

    “20% of new fleet vehicles are CNG”

    Sounds like something a New York based American commodities trader would make up.

    So RR like you did before, provide me a link to a company that provides good info on CNG.

    Comment by Kit P | April 3, 2009

  14. Introducing legislation is not the same as passing legislation.

    Of course that wasn’t the only bit, though.

    Passing legislation will not ensure more use of whatever.

    Of course. Mandating cellulosic ethanol doesn’t ensure that it can be economically produced. But remember that we wouldn’t have any corn ethanol industry were it not for legislation.

    Sounds like something a New York based American commodities trader would make up.

    Rather than spouting off about things, why not find some contradictory information and post it? I can tell you that this ‘commodities trader’ has written quite a comprehensive and useful book. You can take my word for it, you can read through the Amazon reviews that are published by readers, or you can pick it up and read it.

    So RR like you did before, provide me a link to a company that provides good info on CNG.

    What you asked for before was a company that does a good job with corn ethanol. If you are looking for links on CNG, there are lots out there. Here is a balanced article on CNG:


    Natural Gas as an Alternative Fuel for Cars and Trucks

    And of course worldwide, CNG vehicles have really taken off:

    250 cities to have CNG-run vehicles by 2018

    The number of cities, where vehicles ply on compressed natural gas (CNG) will increase more than eight times from current 30 to 250 by 2018, oil regulator said today.

    “CNG run vehicles have risen by nearly 200,000 in past one year to 650,000,” Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) Chairman L Mansingh said at the NGV India 2009 conference here.

    I wouldn’t bet against a pretty big expansion of CNG.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  15. we could replace 30% of our gasoline

    What assumptions are you making?

    It was kind of a loosey-goosey number. The Mandate is for 36 Billion Gallons/yr. I’m thinking with hybrids, EVs, smaller, much more efficient ICEs, (nat gas,) etc we might get our liquid fuel usage down to 120 Billion Gallons/yr.

    So, 30% of 120 Billion would be 36 Billion. Now, a lot of people think our legacy fleet could operate very well with a 30% blend. (of course, the older the car the more problems you might have; but it will take quite a while to reach 36 Billion gallons, and a lot of the very oldest cars will be dropping out of the fleet as we go along.

    Also, with half of our cars being manufactured as flexfuels starting in 2012 (something the American Manufacturers have already committed to) a certain percentage of our fuel going forward will be in the form of E85 (85% Ethanol.)

    I’m not saying the 30% number is likely in the near future, just that it would be possible.

    As for the USPS article. IIRC, the postal service was, actually, substituting smaller, more efficient vehicles with Ford Explorers with V-8 Engines. And, on top of that, only a few of them ever ran on E85 due to very little availability of the high-ethanol mix at that time.

    Look, I don’t know, CNG might catch fire. I just know I wasn’t tempted to go this way. I’ve watched the Nat Gas prices bounce around the last few years in a quite volatile manner, and am not, personally, sold on the future viability (or, affordability,) of the product.

    Comment by rufus | April 3, 2009

  16. RR

    Thanks for the links but the first one supports my position and the second is a puff piece,

    “Conclusions
    While it’s possible to convert a significant amount of the nation’s vehicles from gasoline to CNG in the near future (10 to 15 years), it’s not likely to happen.”

    “Rather than spouting off about things, why not find some contradictory information and post it?”

    Well I did. I checked your source and found him to be not an infroamtive source. The same with your links. I will be sixty this year. I do not need journalist, lawyers, or commodities trader informing me about energy and environmental issues.

    I do make the effort to listen until I figure that I will not learn anything new. For example I went to a series of lectures on removing the dams on the Snake River. I asked about AGW. The speaker who was an attorney told me that electricity could be provided by coal plants in the southwest and that would not change the ‘regional’ balance of ghg emissions. His statement was carefully worded to not be an outright lie but there was no point in having a debate with someone who obfuscates.

    Second example is learning from those who are knowledgeable. Yesterday, I went to a meeting concerning a new software program that our customer want us to add to the project that will impact the schedule. I had three questions of our customer and the project manager. I got excellent and enthusiastic answer. I was able to go back to my boss and endorse the extra work load.

    “I wouldn’t bet against a pretty big expansion of CNG.”

    Based on the information provided by RR, I would not endorse investing in CNG.

    Kit

    Comment by Kit P | April 3, 2009

  17. Robert, well said and thabk you for this post. All that CNG needs is sponsorship by Obama. The fact is that a national policy investing in CNG infrastructure and incentivising CNG production would enrich the production industry, and every industry downstream. Which are politicallt antipodal to Obama’s base of support. CNG support would be followed by calls of “drill baby drill.” In short: partisanship.
    -Adam

    Comment by Adam Young | April 3, 2009

  18. Thanks for the links but the first one supports my position and the second is a puff piece,

    I presume you saw this bit in the article:

    An increase in the use of natural gas vehicles in fleet applications would be more easily achieved than for individually owned vehicles. The lack of infrastructure for fueling natural gas vehicles is more easily solved for fleet vehicles such as city buses and taxi cabs that operate locally and return to a central location each day.

    This is in fact what is happening. Beyond the AT&T announcement, you can find any number of announcements of city buses and other fleet vehicles converting to natural gas. The BTU equivalent cost of CNG relative to a gallon of gasoline is less than a $1 at present, which is the driver for fleets to convert.

    You will be hard pressed to find a major city that doesn't have an expanding natural gas fleet. Don't take my word for it. Google any major city and "natural gas fleet." I just did for 5 major American cities and all were expanding their fleets. In fact, you will find much broader distribution of natural gas fleets than you will find of E85 fleets.

    As far as the second link being a puff piece, I don't follow. It is simply a description of what's going on in India. In the past year, the article indicates that the number of CNG vehicles in India has risen by 200,000. I was in India last year, and I can tell you they are everywhere.

    I checked your source and found him to be not an infroamtive source.

    That fast? How, pray tell, did you manage to do that? I can say that after reading 200 pages of his book, he knows the oil and natural gas industry inside and out. Of course that’s based on reading the book, and knowing quite a bit about the subject myself. I generally find lots of factual errors in energy books, but not in this one. The guy did his homework. I can’t guess how you determined he isn’t informative. Again, looks like everyone who reviewed his book thought otherwise.

    And, on top of that, only a few of them ever ran on E85 due to very little availability of the high-ethanol mix at that time.

    Not true. Per the Washington Post story, 61% of the fleet operated in areas with E85 availability. The story cites numerous examples of exemptions granted even though there were local E85 stations. There were vehicles shipped to places like Hawaii without any E85, but they were in the minority.

    Yesterday, I went to a meeting concerning a new software program that our customer want us to add to the project that will impact the schedule.

    I have to conclude based on no knowledge of the situation that the answers you received were only what you desired to hear and that the project manager was actually not very knowledgeable.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  19. The trucks, derived from Ford Motor Co.’s Explorer sport- utility vehicle, had bigger engines than Jeeps from the former Chrysler Corp. they replaced. A Postal Service study found the new vehicles got as much as 29 percent fewer miles to the gallon. Mail carriers used the corn-based fuel in just 1,000 of them because there weren’t enough places to buy it.

    Comment by rufus | April 3, 2009

  20. The trucks, derived from Ford Motor Co.’s Explorer sport- utility vehicle, had bigger engines than Jeeps from the former Chrysler Corp. they replaced. A Postal Service study found the new vehicles got as much as 29 percent fewer miles to the gallon. Mail carriers used the corn-based fuel in just 1,000 of them because there weren’t enough places to buy it.

    Comment by rufus | April 3, 2009

  21. Look, I think this USPS deal would have been a perfect application for Nat Gas. I can’t think of anything sillier than using a V8 Ford Explorer to deliver the mail (unless you live in Fargo, ND, of course.)

    I’ve stated on other forums that I’m afraid we’ll need a Lot of different options. Serial Hybrids make a lot of sense if you live in Los Angeles. Nat Gas might make sense if you’re UPS. Or, maybe a nat gas/hybrid.

    If you’re a long-haul trucker? I don’t know. It’s a little short on “power,” I’ve heard.

    If I own a convenience store/filling station I might be a little slow on the uptake. I know as a new car-buyer I am.

    We’ll see.

    Comment by rufus | April 3, 2009

  22. Like someone commented – in India CNG (compressed natural gas) goes into every new station. With the typical salary there it is very important to the consumer.

    Reforming natural gas to make ethanol for use in autos is not medium stupid, it is full stupid. Wasteful converting a fuel to another fuel and consuming energy to do it makes no sense at all when the original fuel is one of the cleaner ones around.

    No big deal in modifying gas stations as it is done all the time when the economics are there.

    Comment by Russ | April 3, 2009

  23. Like someone commented – in India CNG (compressed natural gas) goes into every new station. With the typical salary there it is very important to the consumer.

    Reforming natural gas to make ethanol for use in autos is not medium stupid, it is full stupid. Wasteful converting a fuel to another fuel and consuming energy to do it makes no sense at all when the original fuel is one of the cleaner ones around.

    No big deal in modifying gas stations as it is done all the time when the economics are there.

    Comment by Russ | April 3, 2009

  24. Here in Turkey CNG is also very popular – gas (American style gas) and diesel are over 10 USD per gallon.

    Gives one incentive to save where possible.

    Comment by Russ | April 3, 2009

  25. Russ, one could make the argument that you could drive many more miles on 76,000 btus of ethanol than you could on 35,000 btus of nat gas, and diesel (mostly natgas – there’s, usually, only a couple of thousand btus of diesel in a gallon of ethanol.

    Also, at present, it’s much more convenient to operate your car on ethanol.

    Comment by rufus | April 3, 2009

  26. Russ, one could make the argument that you could drive many more miles on 76,000 btus of ethanol than you could on 35,000 btus of nat gas, and diesel (mostly natgas – there’s, usually, only a couple of thousand btus of diesel in a gallon of ethanol.

    Also, at present, it’s much more convenient to operate your car on ethanol.

    Comment by rufus | April 3, 2009

  27. RR

    You still have failed to support your position. I suspect that it is because you have failed to research multiple sources of information. I have pointed out this failing in the past. Do not rely on journalist for your information.

    No, I will not do the research for you. This is because I am a supporter of both ethanol and CNG. Clearly if you live in a dirty stinky city, CNG may be a cleaner choice.

    Let me clear what I mean be acceptance by American consumers. American consumers do not live in India or Brazil. American consumers are not socialist who run our big cities without regard for cost benefit to the environment. American consumers are not fleet operators.

    In any case, we have a difference of opinion about what the future will be like. No big deal. I have no expectation that people of different ages and background will agree about what the future will be like.

    Comment by Kit P | April 3, 2009

  28. I can’t think of anything sillier than using a V8 Ford Explorer to deliver the mail (unless you live in Fargo, ND, of course.)

    That’s the same thing I said. I am not sure why they felt like they needed bigger engines. It does make for a comparison that isn’t apples and oranges.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  29. I can’t think of anything sillier than using a V8 Ford Explorer to deliver the mail (unless you live in Fargo, ND, of course.)

    That’s the same thing I said. I am not sure why they felt like they needed bigger engines. It does make for a comparison that isn’t apples and oranges.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  30. You still have failed to support your position.

    Unlike you, I have actually supplied links and pointed you to sources showing that CNG is gaining ground. In the U.S., that is specifically in fleet vehicles (and you have seen the links, but I will provide another below) and in much of the rest of the world it is throughout the transportation infrastructure.

    I have pointed out this failing in the past. Do not rely on journalist for your information.

    This is one area in which you don’t have a clue. I don’t rely on journalists for information. My experience is what I rely on to determine whether information is credible. That’s why I don’t just post any old story I run across; it’s why I have a good idea of what’s bunk and what isn’t. The journalist is often merely a place to point to a story as a whole, and I will generally comment on the accuracy of what said journalist writes. In case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t a blog in which I merely point to links and say “Look at this cool story.”

    No, I will not do the research for you.

    You don’t even do research for yourself, so why would I expect you to do it for me. It doesn’t matter what I post, when your retort is “I don’t believe it.” But here’s one more for you:

    2008 PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FACT BOOK

    Check Table 29 on CNG vehicles. CNG has gained ground year after year, with a 10-fold increase in the past 10 years. In fact, next to diesel CNG is the most popular choice for fuel listed (almost 10 times greater than all biofuels combined). I don’t know what else to tell you, other than maybe perhaps you should do a little research on your own before giving a completely uninformed opinion and demanding that it be refuted. My quote from Downey – which you disputed – was about fleet vehicles. You were wrong. I knew this based on lots of experience with transportation fuels. You were wrong because this isn’t the area of your experience, but you never let that slow you down at all.

    Fleets are the obvious place for CNG to start, and there is a good reason that CNG is more popular with fleets than ethanol is.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  31. This is a chart “Westtexas” posted.

    Chinese Oil Consumption

    I Guarantee, whatever we do, we better start doing it “Mos Skosche.”

    Comment by rufus | April 3, 2009

  32. Like Mark Twain said:

    “There are lies. there are damned lies, and then there are statistics.”

    WHEN CNG ADVOCATES SAY THERE ARE 130 OR 300 YEARS OF KNOWN RESERVES OF NATURAL GAS they often are using a figure which is based on ” present rates of consumption”

    I think even some of the proponents of Natural Gas have conceded that full-scale adoption of natrual gas as a fuel for an ever expanding fleet of vehicles would deplete the “known reserves in 35-40 years”

    I drove a natural gas powered vehicle for a living. I have absolutely nothing against them. They run fine and work great.

    T. Boone Pickens has made it clear that he means to make money off a switch to Natural Gas and has recently invested a rather large sum of money in Nat. Gas stocks. In short, “He has an axe to grind” and will benefit enormously from the switch to LNG.

    You Tube search box: “T. Boone Pickens”

    John

    Comment by Anonymous | April 3, 2009

  33. Like Mark Twain said:

    “There are lies. there are damned lies, and then there are statistics.”

    WHEN CNG ADVOCATES SAY THERE ARE 130 OR 300 YEARS OF KNOWN RESERVES OF NATURAL GAS they often are using a figure which is based on ” present rates of consumption”

    I think even some of the proponents of Natural Gas have conceded that full-scale adoption of natrual gas as a fuel for an ever expanding fleet of vehicles would deplete the “known reserves in 35-40 years”

    I drove a natural gas powered vehicle for a living. I have absolutely nothing against them. They run fine and work great.

    T. Boone Pickens has made it clear that he means to make money off a switch to Natural Gas and has recently invested a rather large sum of money in Nat. Gas stocks. In short, “He has an axe to grind” and will benefit enormously from the switch to LNG.

    You Tube search box: “T. Boone Pickens”

    John

    Comment by Anonymous | April 3, 2009

  34. You still have failed to support your position.
    Who are you to point fingers, Kit? You have shown NO support (in logic or data) for your own positions.

    Do not rely on journalist for your information.
    Are you kidding me? Who produces news, other than journalists? Bloggers? 60-year-old engineers who knows everything about everything?

    We all know that journalists get carried away at times, or miss critical bits of information. But for the informed reader it is still possible to get useful information from news outlets.

    Pray, do tell, were do you get your information? Oh, I forget, you don’t do that, as you said:

    No, I will not do the research for you.
    It would be helpful if you did some research for your own positions, Mr. High & Mighty.

    American consumers are not socialist…
    Don’t you live in the Midwest? What would you call American agriculture? I can’t think of a better word to describe it.

    American consumers are not fleet operators.
    ?!? So what would you call the fleet operators? Un-American consumers? American non-consumers? How would you classify them?

    Comment by Optimist | April 3, 2009

  35. You still have failed to support your position.
    Who are you to point fingers, Kit? You have shown NO support (in logic or data) for your own positions.

    Do not rely on journalist for your information.
    Are you kidding me? Who produces news, other than journalists? Bloggers? 60-year-old engineers who knows everything about everything?

    We all know that journalists get carried away at times, or miss critical bits of information. But for the informed reader it is still possible to get useful information from news outlets.

    Pray, do tell, were do you get your information? Oh, I forget, you don’t do that, as you said:

    No, I will not do the research for you.
    It would be helpful if you did some research for your own positions, Mr. High & Mighty.

    American consumers are not socialist…
    Don’t you live in the Midwest? What would you call American agriculture? I can’t think of a better word to describe it.

    American consumers are not fleet operators.
    ?!? So what would you call the fleet operators? Un-American consumers? American non-consumers? How would you classify them?

    Comment by Optimist | April 3, 2009

  36. RR wrote,

    “My quote from Downey – which you disputed – was about fleet vehicles. You were wrong.”

    Well, no RR. RR provided data for public transportation. People who make decisions about public transportation should have their blood test for carbon monoxide.

    RR is finally showing that he can do research. Go find how much fuel was consumed in the US for transportation and show me the trend for increasing natural gas.

    Comment by Kit P | April 3, 2009

  37. Robert, would you consider the use of natural gas to fuel the oil sands as ridiculous as using it to make ethanol?

    To me, if you consider the huge inputs in terms of energy (natural gas), water, land use issues and the resulting CO2 emissions from producing the oilsands, using a natural gas to fuel the production of a dirtier source of energy is absurd. Although I haven’t had time to run the numbers myself, I am assuming that burning an equivalent net energy amount of natural gas versus gasoline produces fewer emissions. Anecdotally, this is confirmed on the DOE sight that states: for natural gas versus gasoline, there are 60-90% less smog-producing pollutants and 30-40% less greenhouse gas emissions.

    Comment by Kale | April 3, 2009

  38. Robert, would you consider the use of natural gas to fuel the oil sands as ridiculous as using it to make ethanol?

    To me, if you consider the huge inputs in terms of energy (natural gas), water, land use issues and the resulting CO2 emissions from producing the oilsands, using a natural gas to fuel the production of a dirtier source of energy is absurd. Although I haven’t had time to run the numbers myself, I am assuming that burning an equivalent net energy amount of natural gas versus gasoline produces fewer emissions. Anecdotally, this is confirmed on the DOE sight that states: for natural gas versus gasoline, there are 60-90% less smog-producing pollutants and 30-40% less greenhouse gas emissions.

    Comment by Kale | April 3, 2009

  39. Natural gas and energy independence.

    Last time I checked we are already importing appx. 30% of our natural gas from Mexico and Canada via pipeline.

    I must have mis-read the figures.

    John

    Comment by Anonymous | April 3, 2009

  40. Natural gas and energy independence.

    Last time I checked we are already importing appx. 30% of our natural gas from Mexico and Canada via pipeline.

    I must have mis-read the figures.

    John

    Comment by Anonymous | April 3, 2009

  41. RR is finally showing that he can do research.
    Kit, OTOH, is still working on that skill.

    Go find how much fuel was consumed in the US for transportation and show me the trend for increasing natural gas.
    Go find it yourself, Kit! Maybe you’ll learn something.

    Comment by Optimist | April 3, 2009

  42. Robert, would you consider the use of natural gas to fuel the oil sands as ridiculous as using it to make ethanol?
    A big part of the difference is that we can’t eat tar sands, whereas the produce from the land used for ethanol corn is edible, i.e. corn has higher value than tar sands, even if socialist agricultural policy results in artifically low corn prices.

    Comment by Optimist | April 3, 2009

  43. Last time I checked we are already importing appx. 30% of our natural gas from Mexico and Canada via pipeline.

    It’s not nearly that much, and we also export gas to Mexico and Canada. Total U.S. consumption in 2008 was 23 trillion cubic feet. We imported 4 trillion cubic feet and exported 1 trillion. But we do have the ability to meet all of our own gas needs. It is just that in certain areas, it is much cheaper to get the gas from Canada or Mexico.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  44. Robert, would you consider the use of natural gas to fuel the oil sands as ridiculous as using it to make ethanol?

    No, I am not in favor of using natural gas for tar sands. It could make sense if the natural gas is stranded and can’t otherwise get to market. But, to the extent that we end up using tar sands, I would rather see part of the tar sands production cannibalized to provide heat for the process.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  45. Robert, would you consider the use of natural gas to fuel the oil sands as ridiculous as using it to make ethanol?

    No, I am not in favor of using natural gas for tar sands. It could make sense if the natural gas is stranded and can’t otherwise get to market. But, to the extent that we end up using tar sands, I would rather see part of the tar sands production cannibalized to provide heat for the process.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  46. Well, no RR.

    Kit, please don’t waste my time. When you end up being wrong, there is no need to keep spinning. To refresh your memory. I quoted Downey that 20% of new fleet vehicles are CNG. You suggested he made it up and that he wasn’t knowledgeable.

    Of course I didn’t just happen upon CNG yesterday, I just quoted something specific from the book. So when you come along, do no research at all, and argue that I am wrong (while failing to support your own position), it’s really sort of amusing. It becomes even more amusing when I explicitly show you that you were wrong, and you change the subject and try to say something cute.

    I can write a lot of energy-related things that I know to be right, but that you might dispute. It isn’t my responsibility in these cases to prove to you that you are wrong. In the future, perhaps a starting point for you would be to do research to support your own argument. I think that’s a reasonable request if you wish to claim that I am wrong.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  47. Well, no RR.

    Kit, please don’t waste my time. When you end up being wrong, there is no need to keep spinning. To refresh your memory. I quoted Downey that 20% of new fleet vehicles are CNG. You suggested he made it up and that he wasn’t knowledgeable.

    Of course I didn’t just happen upon CNG yesterday, I just quoted something specific from the book. So when you come along, do no research at all, and argue that I am wrong (while failing to support your own position), it’s really sort of amusing. It becomes even more amusing when I explicitly show you that you were wrong, and you change the subject and try to say something cute.

    I can write a lot of energy-related things that I know to be right, but that you might dispute. It isn’t my responsibility in these cases to prove to you that you are wrong. In the future, perhaps a starting point for you would be to do research to support your own argument. I think that’s a reasonable request if you wish to claim that I am wrong.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  48. “I would rather see part of the tar sands production cannibalized to provide heat for the process.”

    Yes, that would be an interesting idea, but at NG prices right now probably won’t happen. I understand that ~20% of Alberta’s NG supply goes to the oilsands,

    I can say (being one that works in the NG industry in Canada) that the NG that fuels the oilsands is definitely not stranded gas, the majority of production right now is coming from NW Alberta and NE British Columbia, so if that gas is getting to NE Alberta, it can also get to market.

    Interestingly enough, there is an application for a nuclear plant in Alberta on the books right now. Presumably this will be used to fuel the oil sands. Although, as I understand it using this power for oilsands would require a big re-tooling going from NG to electric. Another interesting thing to me is that the nuclear plant is proposed for central Alberta, a long way from the oil sands. I wonder if this is due to the worry if there was a disaster that they wouldn’t contaminate the oilsands area.

    On another note, do you think NG prices follow oil prices with any correlation?

    Comment by Kale | April 3, 2009

  49. On another note, do you think NG prices follow oil prices with any correlation?

    That’s an interesting question, because I got into an argument with a coworker about this recently. He was a former natural gas buyer for a chemical company. He insisted that there was absolutely no correlation, and I insisted that there was. We were both correct.

    For many years, there was not a strong correlation. But in recent years as oil prices ran up and collapsed, gas prices have followed. But during the time frame each of us was talking about (he was a natural gas buyer in the 90’s, and I was referring to the past 10 years) we were each correct.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  50. On another note, do you think NG prices follow oil prices with any correlation?

    That’s an interesting question, because I got into an argument with a coworker about this recently. He was a former natural gas buyer for a chemical company. He insisted that there was absolutely no correlation, and I insisted that there was. We were both correct.

    For many years, there was not a strong correlation. But in recent years as oil prices ran up and collapsed, gas prices have followed. But during the time frame each of us was talking about (he was a natural gas buyer in the 90’s, and I was referring to the past 10 years) we were each correct.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  51. Just curious, what percent of our oil consumption goes towards personally owned vehicles vs fleet vehicles? I want to get a feel for how big an impact changing fleet vehicles (to whatever) could have on our total consumption. I don’t know where to find such information.

    Comment by Clee | April 3, 2009

  52. Just curious, what percent of our oil consumption goes towards personally owned vehicles vs fleet vehicles?

    I don’t think I have ever seen the information broken out like that. You can get a breakdown of diesel consumption. But I am having a hard time finding information on total fleet size in the U.S. versus personal transportation.

    That public transportation fact book said that there are 150,000 vehicles in the public transit fleet. The US Postal Service has a fleet of over 200,000. Police cars are going to be another large category of fleet vehicles. But I can’t find a number for total fleet vehicles, nor of how much fuel they consume relative to passenger vehicles.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  53. Just curious, what percent of our oil consumption goes towards personally owned vehicles vs fleet vehicles?

    I don’t think I have ever seen the information broken out like that. You can get a breakdown of diesel consumption. But I am having a hard time finding information on total fleet size in the U.S. versus personal transportation.

    That public transportation fact book said that there are 150,000 vehicles in the public transit fleet. The US Postal Service has a fleet of over 200,000. Police cars are going to be another large category of fleet vehicles. But I can’t find a number for total fleet vehicles, nor of how much fuel they consume relative to passenger vehicles.

    RR

    Comment by Robert Rapier | April 3, 2009

  54. The issue seems to boil down to how much natural gas we actually have and how long it would last. I have heard that Pickens plans to make it from shale but I have also heard that this is GHG intensive. Anyone know the real deal?

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 4, 2009

  55. Russ, you are kidding? Burning fossil fuels to produce energy is ghg intensive. Natural gas is a fossil fuel, somebody clue the speaker of the house in. When oxidized, an atom of C produces one CO2 molecule.

    So if you are concerned with AGW, which I am not, what are the best ways to reduce ghg emissions?

    The largest reductions in the US ghg emissions have been improvements at nuke plants. For new electricity generation these is no second place.

    The second largest US reduction in ghg emissions is methane capture. This includes Landfill gas, coal bed methane, reducing leakage on pipelines, and AD of manure. This is a win-win because methane has a gwp = 20 and recovered methane can be used to produced energy.

    Efficiency is third.

    When it comes to transportation fuels there is only only ugly. There is no first place, but the completion to have the best BS program. Sorry but putting lipstick on a pig, does not make pips fly.

    There are not good engineering solutions for transportation fuels to reduce ghg. The best solution is consumers making better choices like car pooling and buying smaller cars.

    The best US engineering solutions for transportation fuels to reduce ghg is biofuels at about 25-50% improvement depending on the process. About the same as car pooling.

    So Russ, tight natural gas would not reduce ghg it might be worse but then we would be splitting hairs. However, like biofuels is produced in the US and would result in fewer LNG or CNG cargoes coming to the US.

    Comment by Kit P | April 4, 2009

  56. Russ, you are kidding? Burning fossil fuels to produce energy is ghg intensive. Natural gas is a fossil fuel, somebody clue the speaker of the house in. When oxidized, an atom of C produces one CO2 molecule.

    So if you are concerned with AGW, which I am not, what are the best ways to reduce ghg emissions?

    The largest reductions in the US ghg emissions have been improvements at nuke plants. For new electricity generation these is no second place.

    The second largest US reduction in ghg emissions is methane capture. This includes Landfill gas, coal bed methane, reducing leakage on pipelines, and AD of manure. This is a win-win because methane has a gwp = 20 and recovered methane can be used to produced energy.

    Efficiency is third.

    When it comes to transportation fuels there is only only ugly. There is no first place, but the completion to have the best BS program. Sorry but putting lipstick on a pig, does not make pips fly.

    There are not good engineering solutions for transportation fuels to reduce ghg. The best solution is consumers making better choices like car pooling and buying smaller cars.

    The best US engineering solutions for transportation fuels to reduce ghg is biofuels at about 25-50% improvement depending on the process. About the same as car pooling.

    So Russ, tight natural gas would not reduce ghg it might be worse but then we would be splitting hairs. However, like biofuels is produced in the US and would result in fewer LNG or CNG cargoes coming to the US.

    Comment by Kit P | April 4, 2009

  57. This link breaks down GHG equivalent by type of vehicle.

    Kit,

    Natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide as coal at power plants and 20 percent less than gasoline in cars.

    “….The best US engineering solutions for transportation fuels to reduce ghg is biofuels at about 25-50% improvement depending on the process…”

    95% of our biofuels are made from corn and soy. Corn is up to 50% worse than gasoline for GHG just from nitrous oxide release from the fields not to mention crop displacement effects. Soy is worse than corn because it takes three times as much land per vehicle mile and therefore has three times the land displacement effects.

    Biodiversivist

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 4, 2009

  58. This link breaks down GHG equivalent by type of vehicle.

    Kit,

    Natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide as coal at power plants and 20 percent less than gasoline in cars.

    “….The best US engineering solutions for transportation fuels to reduce ghg is biofuels at about 25-50% improvement depending on the process…”

    95% of our biofuels are made from corn and soy. Corn is up to 50% worse than gasoline for GHG just from nitrous oxide release from the fields not to mention crop displacement effects. Soy is worse than corn because it takes three times as much land per vehicle mile and therefore has three times the land displacement effects.

    Biodiversivist

    Comment by Russ Finley | April 4, 2009

  59. Kit, most of our corn, and beans are raised, today, with no-till/conservation till cultivation. Very little nitrous oxide escapes.

    Even if it did. If we burned fossil fuels, and engaged in global deep-plowing like we have for the last 150 years we would put about 100 parts per BILLION nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. That would be comparable to Two parts per Million of CO2.

    You may have noticed after the immediate yammering the N2O meme kind of went away.

    Comment by rufus | April 4, 2009

  60. Russ are you looking at the same cartoon that I am?

    What the cartoon shows is the total ghg from various aspects of the US (?) economy. It des not provide rates of ghg releases.

    “Natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide as coal at power plants”

    True but coal produces 2.5 times as much electricity as natural gas. Notice the 3 blocks that are called ‘other’ which is about the same magnitude as natural gas. If you want to reduce ghg gas for electricity generation look at those three block that include nuclear.

    What the cartoon does not support any of the statements you have made including “20 percent less than gasoline in cars.”

    I suspect the source of information is DOE/EPA reports on man made ghg emissions bases on doing LCA for electricity generation. CO2, methane and nitrous oxide release also occur from natural sources.

    The cartoon does help answer Clee question, “Just curious, what percent of our oil consumption goes towards personally owned vehicles vs fleet vehicles?”

    For example, Clee likely heats with NG. If Clee bought a Honda Civic system for fueling his car with NG, the ghg would shift from “passenger car petroleum” to “residential use of natural gas combustion.”

    Clearly there is a large potential for folks like Clee convert from “passenger car petroleum” to NG. However, if the NG comes from imported LNG there may not be any benefit.

    As I said before, “However, consumer acceptance in of natural gas has been close to zero in the US even when it was very cheap.”

    Looking at the cartoon, I can suggest numerous ways that would both reduce ghg and oil imports none of which have anything to do with NG or wind turbines.

    Kit

    Comment by Kit P | April 4, 2009

  61. Russ are you looking at the same cartoon that I am?

    What the cartoon shows is the total ghg from various aspects of the US (?) economy. It des not provide rates of ghg releases.

    “Natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide as coal at power plants”

    True but coal produces 2.5 times as much electricity as natural gas. Notice the 3 blocks that are called ‘other’ which is about the same magnitude as natural gas. If you want to reduce ghg gas for electricity generation look at those three block that include nuclear.

    What the cartoon does not support any of the statements you have made including “20 percent less than gasoline in cars.”

    I suspect the source of information is DOE/EPA reports on man made ghg emissions bases on doing LCA for electricity generation. CO2, methane and nitrous oxide release also occur from natural sources.

    The cartoon does help answer Clee question, “Just curious, what percent of our oil consumption goes towards personally owned vehicles vs fleet vehicles?”

    For example, Clee likely heats with NG. If Clee bought a Honda Civic system for fueling his car with NG, the ghg would shift from “passenger car petroleum” to “residential use of natural gas combustion.”

    Clearly there is a large potential for folks like Clee convert from “passenger car petroleum” to NG. However, if the NG comes from imported LNG there may not be any benefit.

    As I said before, “However, consumer acceptance in of natural gas has been close to zero in the US even when it was very cheap.”

    Looking at the cartoon, I can suggest numerous ways that would both reduce ghg and oil imports none of which have anything to do with NG or wind turbines.

    Kit

    Comment by Kit P | April 4, 2009

  62. “Kit, most of our corn, and beans are raised, today, with no-till/conservation till cultivation. Very little nitrous oxide escapes.”

    Rufus you are correct. I have a ton of data on this in a binder at work. One of the things I look for ethanol LCA is that they properly account of N,P, & K use and nitrous oxide releases. I am satisfied that biofuels are a better environmental choice when they are done to US standards. It does depend on specific local conditions.

    Comment by Kit P | April 4, 2009

  63. Russ, what the “crop displacement” numbers don’t take into account is that we’re growing more corn every year on Fewer Acres. In fact, we’re taking 5 Million Acres Out of Production This Year.

    I WILL agree that the Great “Unknown” is the impact from “Shale.” I have no idea how to quantify it. I don’t think many other “civilians” do, either. If the hype from the nat gas industry is true it could be a real game-changer.

    It IS intriguing enough that I don’t want to just jump out and dismiss the whole idea of getting a substantial amount of transportation from ng out of hand. On the other hand, we will, hopefully, be here a long time, and discretian might be the better part of valor.

    Comment by rufus | April 4, 2009

  64. Russ, what the “crop displacement” numbers don’t take into account is that we’re growing more corn every year on Fewer Acres. In fact, we’re taking 5 Million Acres Out of Production This Year.

    I WILL agree that the Great “Unknown” is the impact from “Shale.” I have no idea how to quantify it. I don’t think many other “civilians” do, either. If the hype from the nat gas industry is true it could be a real game-changer.

    It IS intriguing enough that I don’t want to just jump out and dismiss the whole idea of getting a substantial amount of transportation from ng out of hand. On the other hand, we will, hopefully, be here a long time, and discretian might be the better part of valor.

    Comment by rufus | April 4, 2009

  65. Thanks for correct import figures regarding Canadian and Mexican Natural Gas. I thought 30% sounded suspiciously high.

    John

    Comment by Anonymous | April 4, 2009


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