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Natural gas stations coming soon

I heard a news piece on the radio tonight about natural gas as a transportation fuel. Navistar will start building a medium truck that runs on natural gas; heavy truck production will begin next year. The fuel cost is currently $1.50 less than diesel. But where to fuel up? Clean Energy Fuels Corp. will begin installing LNG fueling systems at Pilot Flying J Travel Centers - at least 150 of them. The plan is for them to be about 250 miles apart and allow truckers to get LNG from coast to coast and Canada to Mexico. A little reading at the Navistar and Clean Energy web sites shows that it’s the real deal. For those of us with cars, it will allow us to travel away from home if we drive natural gas powered vehicles. It sounds good to me. Even if 10% of the vehicles were natural gas powered, it would have a substantial, positive effect on gasoline prices. What do you think?

They’re already in Latin America. On my last trip to Brazil my driver stopped to gas up and had the choice of: alcohol (pure methanol), regular and premium gas, propane, diesel and natural gas. Most cars in Brazil are dual fuel (gasoline/acohol). The alcohol is “denatured”, so you can’t take a drink from your tank!

With the glut of natural gas, it’s worthwhile to convert. Just like propane in the 70s and 80s.

Choice is good. Of course, like everything else associated with driving, as it catches on the price differential will disappear. You think the manufacturers of gasoline and diesel are just going to fade away? Not a chance.

There was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle today about midnight thefts of restaurant and commercial waste cooking grease. This link might work:

At the wellhead, today, natural gas is priced at $2.32 MMBTU. That’s $2.32 for a million BTU’s of fuel…At todays prices, in order to buy a million BTU’s worth of gasoline or diesel fuel, you would need to spend about $30…

Even at the full retail price of $15/MMBTU, natural gas is still half the price of gasoline or diesel…So it’s no surprise that commercial fuel users are looking to take advantage of that…

http://finance.yahoo.com/futures

Yep, cheap natural gas is displacing coal and making folks delay nuclear plants in the US.

Fork lifts have been fueled on LP for years when they are used inside. In Minneapolis some of the utilities trucks are fueled on natural gas and seems to work out. We are awash in gas and although there are some distinct disadvantages for the casual user, it can’t hurt.

No effect whatsoever on gasoline prices.

Natural gas is not causing anyone to delay nuclear plants in the U.S. On the contrary, we’re starting to work on the first one in thirty years. Cause of delay? Maybe Three Mile Island.

I agree with “went west”. If natural gas was completely devoid of petro company influences or control, it would have a competitive effect on gas prices. I’m cynical enough to believe that as one goes up, so goes the other. But, from the stand point of a more friendly environmental impact and maybe, if they get the extraction right, sure. The more competition, the better. Don’t hold your breath thinking that because so much of the sources are here at home, companies still won’t try to sell abroad to keep the world market price up along with their profits. It’s the same with oil and why the Keystone pipeline is a bogus arguement for lowering gas prices. The world is now “flat” and oil follows the money…and China has it and Canada wants it.

So, you’ll see Canada sending oil from the end of the pipeline and we shipping gas to the highest bidder. The key to lower energy costs, is electricity generated from localized power production from wind, wave and solar. Everything else is supply and demand and steep competition from the other big users, like China. All opinions subject to change as new info arrives and someone has a better idea.

Funny most people (Not all) look at pricing of various fuels compare the price at the pump and look at gasoline and diesel. This is as it should be if you are looking at what you are paying today, but they often overlook the fact that the roads still need to be maintained.

Just remember when comparing cost, don’t forget the road taxes that are part of the cost of most motor fuels at the pump. Factor in those other cost when needed.

Large, commercial vehicles that are always kept outdoors can use LNG as fuel and get decent range between fill-ups…But smaller vehicles (passenger cars) must use CNG which limits range between fills to around 100 miles…

Right now, the petroleum industry can meet the demand for its products but just barely as global demand increases…When the demand can no longer be met and petroleum products swing into shortage with only price controlling demand, the inconveniences of using NG as motor fuel will be gladly tolerated…

“…don’t forget the road taxes that are part of the cost of most motor fuels at the pump.”

If we could gas up at home with methane and NG becomes a common fuel, how will the fuel taxes for road repairs be collected? As I understand it, anyone that makes their own diesel fuel is supposed to pay the same taxes they would if they bought the fuel at a filling station. But anyone with a NG feed to their home likely uses it for heating and cooking. I haven’t heard if the same taxes would be collected with your income tax as home brew diesel is supposed to be.

“No effect whatsoever on gasoline prices.”

Not yet, but maybe in 5 to 10 years it may have a retarding effect. We’ll need that long to get 10% or more of the US fleet on methane. And I expect that it won’t go up as high as it would have if the methane option wasn’t available. It’s a bit like federal expenditures. Spending cuts are claimed if they don’t going up as quickly as they were supposed to.

@littlemouse - Nope, the cheap natural gas is making it MUCH cheaper to generate electricity from gas turbine than from nuclear. From the WSJ:

"The U.S. nuclear industry seemed to be staging a comeback several years ago, with 15 power companies proposing as many as 29 new reactors. Today, only two projects are moving off the drawing board.

What killed the revival wasn’t last year’s nuclear accident in Japan, nor was it a soft economy that dented demand for electricity. Rather, a shale-gas boom flooded the U.S. market with cheap natural gas, offering utilities a cheaper, less risky alternative to nuclear technology.

“It’s killed off new coal and now it’s killing off new nuclear,” says David Crane, chief executive of NRG Energy Inc.,"

@Dagosa - if energy companies had all the powers you imagine, they would never have allow natural gas prices to crater like they have over the last few years. Instead of going up with oil prices, they’ve gone exactly the opposite direction, with natural gas prices so low companies can’t afford to drill as many of those hugely expensive shale wells.

Here is a link to a map of CNG refueling stations. Some of the stations in my area were built many years ago for fleet use.

http://www.cleanenergyfuels.com/stations.html

“Here is a link to a map of CNG refueling stations.”

It’s a start. Most of the stations in the Northeast on this map are on Long Island. That’s great for part of suburban New York City, but most of the rest of us are still waiting. The Pilot Flying J stations will be the next step in making LNG and CNG practical for daily drivers and commercial rigs.

“…the cheap natural gas is making it MUCH cheaper to generate electricity from gas turbine than from nuclear.”

I agree, texases. And possibly the best ting about methane is that the utility can turn it on and off almost at will. Methane fueled power plants are the best ones to augment wind and solar power. If either low-pollution source is unavailable, just turn on the methane power plant. Yes, it takes a little while to power up, but it’s nothing like starting a coal or nuclear facility.

Docnick, you meant Ethanol didnt you?I have a personal thing about Methonal,I had a dear relative who for whatever reason drank a gallon of windshield washer fluid.At anyrate CNG is some good stuff ,the Navy motor pool uses a lot of CNG fueled vehicles.Think about it ,you are burning a lot of Hydrogen with CNG.“CAT” engines use a small amount of Diesel fuel to ignite the natural gas in the combustion cycle.There is no problem with taxes(I loathe taxes) there is something called a user fee(toll road) user fees are totally fair’ As far as nuclear power there is something called a Thorium reactor,we have a perchant for the spectacular in our infernal machines,the Otto cycle engine was basically developed to consume toxic waste(Gasoline) leftover from our quest for lampoil(which due to the depletion of the Cetecean stocks was becoming scarcer and more expensive) I hope by now most people realize that the Earth has a finite carrying capacity,if we hope to be well fed and maintain our standard of living-Kevin

Natural gas is not causing anyone to delay nuclear plants in the U.S. On the contrary, we’re starting to work on the first one in thirty years. Cause of delay? Maybe Three Mile Island.

And the approval for that plant was done YEARS go…they started planning that at least 10 years ago. The approval process takes 5+ years…All that happened BEFORE NG prices dropped and oil prices soared.

Natural gas prices 10 years ago were essentially the same as today. In the intervening years the price went up and down, mostly up, with several substantial peaks.

The approval process took about 3 years, 2006-2009, hardly “YEARS go”. There was a separate, later, approval for a specific reactor design.

When did oil prices NOT soar? Adjusted for inflation they’re remained relatively flat for decades.

@kmccune Yes, I meant ethanol; Brazil makes it from sugar cane and they can flex their production between sugar and ethanol, based on sugar demand and prices.

Natural gas, if anyone hasn’t noticed is no competition for petrol in the transportation arena. When it becomes, it WILL follow the price of gas “texases”. In case anyone in the North East who supplements wood for oil, you noticed that as the price of home heating oil goes up, so does the cost of cut and split wood. There is a constant difference reflecting the convenience, but they are tied.

The price of extraction for oil has less effect on the sale price then world market competition. Otherwise, we wouldn’t, as we speak be paying nearly $4 per gallon while for the first time in recent memory, the US is now exporting more petrol products then it takes in. All of us have been hoodwinked into thinking that the more we drill, the farther we get from volatile oil prices. Canada and we will sell oil to the highest bidder, whether it be at home or overseas as far as petrol products are concerned.

Contrived energy cost techniques, made famous by ENRON. specifically bankrupting California, is alive and well. If you think ANY energy corporation has anything but profit line on their mind when drilling and refining oil products, you have your head in the “oil Shale”.