Natural Gas Matters

I was driving through Pennsylvania on Friday afternoon this past week, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the show Natural Gas Matters on 590 AM. If you are in Pennsylvania, I would recommend you tune in on Fridays at 3:15 p.m. This show helps answer the common questions and concerns that people have about natural gas. You can read more about it here.

Netherlands’ Veka-Group develops new LNG tankers

Veka-Group has developed three new LNG tankers, which can also be used as bunker ships. Two tankers are destined for short sea trips and/or coastal services. The third tanker, a LNG inland waterway bunker ship, is the first of its type in the world. The tanker sails almost completely on the ‘boil off’ of the load and is 100% emission-free. After the introduction of the first bi-fuel tanker in the world, the “Pioneer Knutsen”, this is again a proof of Veka-Group’s innovative power.
With the “Pioneer Knutsen”, Bijlsma Shipyard, member of the Veka-Group, was years ahead of her time. ‘It was the first bi-fuel LNG tanker ever built’, says managing director Arend Bijlsma. ‘Especially for this project we have developed new technology for the storage of LNG and for the use of LNG as fuel for the propulsion engines. The combination of these two techniques made it possible to sail the tanker for a significant part on the ‘boil off’ (the gas that is released by keeping the load on the correct temperature). The engine switches to diesel in case of insufficient ‘boil off’ availability, which explains the term bi-fuel.’ Thanks to these innovations applied when building the “Pioneer Knutsen”, the design received the ‘Clean Marine Award ’ from the European Commission. Continue reading

How America Can Escape the Energy Trap

Soaring natural gas production has already cut the share of oil consumption met by imports to 47% last year from 60% in 2005.

By Mort Zuckerman

A Louisiana Shale Gas Well

Can America escape the energy trap? Must our lives and security be forever held hostage to the vagaries of political power in the Middle East oil states? The answers to these questions are yes, and no. Thanks to American technology and enterprise, we can achieve a degree of energy security that once seemed hopeless—but only if we can sort out our priorities.

The good news is that the United States is at the center of a global energy revolution. Our development of innovative shale-gas technology offers the prospect of a huge bonanza of natural gas (and some oil as well). It’s the most positive event in the country’s energy outlook in 50 years. Let’s celebrate the achievement before looking at what needs to be done to bring it to fruition.

Our geologists have long been aware that gas (and oil) lies hidden in the country’s shale beds and under the ocean, but we had no chance to extract it until American entrepreneurial energy inspired companies to gamble on new technologies. In a phrase, technology has trumped geology. Advances in computer-processing power yielded seismic mapping and three-dimensional imaging, enabling geologists to “see” through the thick layers of rock and salt obscuring the reservoirs thousands of feet below the surface. And new drilling technologies allow us to penetrate thousands of feet of rock, turn a corner, and continue drilling horizontally for several thousand more feet to reach millions of cubic feet of gas.

It’s trapped in the shale, but it can be released by the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are blasted in at high pressure. Fissures open up, and gas and oil seeps out.

The process of finding and producing hydrocarbons from this shale has taken off with such velocity that it has already significantly altered government and corporate energy expectations. The production costs of shale gas are about one-half to one-third the costs associated with new conventional gas wells in North America. The result is a glut of new supply and plummeting prices.

This kind of seismic shift in the energy landscape is rare. It could bring us back to the time when the U.S. and its neighbors in the hemisphere were self-sufficient and even a major world source of energy. Energy companies have become exporters, as the U.S. has surpassed Russia as the world’s leading gas producer.

So what’s the snag—and how serious is it? Continue reading

Clean Energy to begin providing CNG for additional trucking fleets

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. today announced that it has begun providing natural gas fuel to additional trucking fleets which transport products for some of the country’s largest and most well-known brands, accelerating the trucking industry’s conversion to natural gas fuel.

Five firms — Saddle Creek Logistics Services, Lakeland, FL; Premier Transportation, Atlanta, GA; Hoopes Turf Farm, Transport Division, Ulysses, PA; Lily Transportation Corp., Needham, MA; and Lancaster Foods, Jessup, MD — will use compressed natural gas (CNG) at existing Clean Energy public access stations, new stations built for the companies, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) at Clean Energy stations along its America’s Natural Gas Highway™.

“These companies are geographically diverse, but the common theme we hear from all of them is a desire to reduce their fuel costs and to deploy cleaner operating fleets,” said James Harger, Clean Energy’s Chief Marketing Officer. “With the availability of a new class of heavy-duty natural gas trucks as well as more fueling stations, regional and national trucking operators are seeing the enormous benefits of converting to natural gas as their transportation fuel.”

Source

As Commodity Prices Face Pressure and Oil Stays High, Will Farmers Embrace Natural Gas?

2012 promises to be a difficult year for farmers as an estimated 4.8% increase in U.S. corn production, coupled with increased planting of the crop worldwide, puts downward pressure on prices. Corn, which has doubled in the past two years due to demand for cattle feed, is expected to drop by 30% to $4.035/bushel next year in Chicago trading. The record U.S. wheat harvest which is also projected next year should depress wheat prices as well, according to a Bloomberg article.

But oil prices are expected to remain high.  Barclay’s senior economist Alia Moubayed said that the Saudis need $91 oil as a “break even point” in an interview on Bloomberg’s “Surveillance” yesterday. Social unrest swept the Middle East in 2011, and the Saudi government has attempted to quell dissent by promising increased social benefits. The Saudis need higher oil prices to keep those promises. Saudi Arabia’s massive production capacity means that they are a longtime swing producer who can influence the world oil price by simply increasing or decreasing production. U.S. oil producers also need $80 oil to stay profitable. Below $80 they begin slowing drilling and decreasing production.

This combination of higher input costs and lower grain prices, coupled with the recent price boom in farmland, promises to squeeze profits for farmers in 2012. This has many farmers looking for ways to cut costs.

Natural gas may be part of the answer. “Though there are costs to converting diesel powered machinery to run on a diesel/natural gas blend, a 20-30% savings in diesel fuel promises a quick return on investment for high volume diesel users.” said C&E Clean Energy Solution’s Brian Carpenter. Continue reading

Questions and Answers With T. Boone Pickens

T. Boone Pickens is on a crusade to wean America off its addiction to foreign oil. The famed oilman and corporate takeover artist has been crisscrossing the country pushing the Pickens Plan, which proposes converting heavy vehicles to run on abundant and domestically available natural gas.

The plan is not uncontroversial, particularly amongst some in the green community who note that it is based on controversial extraction techniques and that Pickens, an oil and gas investor, stands to profit handsomely if it is enacted. But the plan, which inspired a bill in the U.S. Congress called the Nat Gas Act, also has influential supporters in Washington and at The New York Times. We caught up with Pickens a couple of weeks ago. The interview was condensed and edited for clarity. Continue reading

The Facts About Fracking

The real risks of the shale gas revolution, and how to manage them.

From the Wall Street Journal
The U.S. is in the midst of an energy revolution, and we don’t mean solar panels or wind turbines. A new gusher of natural gas from shale has the potential to transform U.S. energy production—that is, unless politicians, greens and the industry mess it up.

Only a decade ago Texas oil engineers hit upon the idea of combining two established technologies to release natural gas trapped in shale formations. Horizontal drilling—in which wells turn sideways after a certain depth—opens up big new production areas. Producers then use a 60-year-old technique called hydraulic fracturing—in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into the well at high pressure—to loosen the shale and release gas (and increasingly, oil).

***
The resulting boom is transforming America’s energy landscape. As recently as 2000, shale gas was 1% of America’s gas supplies; today it is 25%. Prior to the shale breakthrough, U.S. natural gas reserves were in decline, prices exceeded $15 per million British thermal units, and investors were building ports to import liquid natural gas. Today, proven reserves are the highest since 1971, prices have fallen close to $4 and ports are being retrofitted for LNG exports. Continue reading

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