Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chesapeake talking about CNG vehicles

In my early days as an oil and gas reporter in Houston years ago, I remember George Mitchell proudly telling me Mitchell Energy converted its pickup trucks to use compressed natural gas.

CNG vehicles never really took off in the US except for some city buses here and there. But Tom Price, senior vice-president of corporate development for Chesapeake Energy Corp., is talking about industry pushing the idea of using CNG for transportation.

During a recent speech to the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission’s annual meeting in Santa Fe, NM, Price called natural gas “the only viable alternative fuel today.” He says US gas producers are “victims of too little demand.”

The most obvious snag that limits widespread use of CNG vehicles in the US is a lack of fueling stations.

The Boston Globe on May 23 reported European drivers can buy CNG vehicles from eight manufacturers. US drivers have only one choice provided they live in one of two states. Individuals in California and New York can buy a CNG Honda Civic. Honda only offers the vehicle in those states for lack of public fueling stations elsewhere.

Toyota Motor Sales USA displayed a CNG Camry Hybrid concept vehicle at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. To convert the stock Camry Hybrid to a CNG vehicle, the gasoline fuel system was replaced with a CNG system including two CNG tanks installed in the spare tire well area.

At IOGCC, Price said CNG is a clean, affordable fuel that can power heavy and light-duty vehicles. In addition, he points out that natural gas is ideal for back-up generation for wind and solar.

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