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Why Natural Gas Vehicles Won't Decrease Oil Dependence
SeekingAlpha ^ | 7 Feb 10 | Eamon Keane

Posted on 02/11/2010 6:21:54 AM PST by shove_it

Natural gas is the fossil fuel du jour. At Davos, BP CEO Tony Hayward described unconventional natural gas as a 'complete game changer'. The rest of the panel agreed. In December Exxon Mobil (XOM) bought XTO Energy for $41bn to access its resource base of 45tcf (trillion cubic feet) of unconventional natty. Some see this as Exxon pivoting away from difficult to find oil into where the future fossil fuel growth will be. America is now apparently awash in a 100 year supply of nat gas. Why not use that for transport and stop the annual outflow of some $300bn out of the American economy, much of it to supposed enemies, all while creating those elusive green jobs?

Seeking Alpha author Michael Fitzsimmons has for a long time been passionately advocating natural gas as a panacea for the prospective peak oil problem. Many here agree, decrying Secretary Chu's "agnostic" stance towards its use for transport. T. Boone Pickens, in his Pickens' Plan redux, suggests that by transferring 18 wheelers and buses to natural by 2020 we could cut OPEC import dependence in half. I decided to take a quick look under the hood myself. My straw man will be that the US can stop all oil imports by 2035.

I find graphs are a powerful way to cut through the rhetoric and get down to the quantitative basics so I'll try to supply a few here.

[...]

The likely result of Pickens' plan being successful would be that by 2020 heating diesel and jet fuel would get cheaper (distillates are made with the same molecules) or else the diesel would be exported. The exposure to crude oil wouldn't change.

[...]

Are there any inaccuracies so far? Perhaps a refining expert could weigh in.

(Excerpt) Read more at seekingalpha.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: energy

1 posted on 02/11/2010 6:21:54 AM PST by shove_it
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To: shove_it

So what happens to home heating costs for those of us who heat with gas?


2 posted on 02/11/2010 6:27:08 AM PST by cripplecreek (Seniors, the new shovel ready project under socialized medicine.)
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To: cripplecreek
So what happens to home heating costs for those of us who heat with gas?

Your costs to heat your home go up.

3 posted on 02/11/2010 6:32:55 AM PST by world weary
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To: shove_it

we need to tap the huge gas reserves in PA and elsewhere....we need to tap ANWR and our costal oil reserves....we have the fuel....we need a leader who is not trying to turn Amercia into his beloved Kenya.


4 posted on 02/11/2010 6:32:59 AM PST by Vaquero (BHO....'The Pretenda from Kenya')
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To: shove_it

Natural gas liquefies around 3500 pounds where propane is about 150 PSI. The cost of liquefying natural gas uses as much energy as you liquefy. 50% efficiency is not good next to 100% with propane. Would you like a ride on a bus setting on high pressure flammable container? Why not drill for oil and make more refineries? That would be the easy out!


5 posted on 02/11/2010 6:34:43 AM PST by mountainlion (concerned conservative.)
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To: cripplecreek

The new shale plays have more than adequate amounts of gas to keep nat gas prices stable in the $5-6 price range they are currently at.

The author misses the point on nat gas for vehicles. IF the diesel component is an issue, then mandate manufacturers produce x% diesel cars. That will ensure we use the diesel we refine. Clean diesel is much more efficient than gas and Audi and BMW have led the way in producing cars and suv’s which use diesel.

As for infrastructure, we should phase in the nat gas usage, concentrating first on fleet vehicles like buses. If all the buses in the US were converted to nat gas, you would save huge amounts of oil imports and would need to provide only a limited number of fueling stations.

The answer is much easier than trying to build plug in electrics which would crash our power grid, and for which huge new electrical generating capacity would be needed.


6 posted on 02/11/2010 6:34:50 AM PST by milwguy
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To: Vaquero

Bingo! Those domestic production graphs look real dismal.


7 posted on 02/11/2010 6:35:19 AM PST by shove_it (and have a nice day)
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To: cripplecreek
-- So what happens to home heating costs for those of us who heat with gas? --

The answer varies from market to market, depending on local supply and local demand. My hunch is that when a large new user pops into a market (e.g., a new gas-fired powerplant), the price stays flat or increases slightly.

8 posted on 02/11/2010 6:35:47 AM PST by Cboldt
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To: shove_it

Increasing demand for NG tenfold will make heating bills unaffordable. No thanks.


9 posted on 02/11/2010 6:36:48 AM PST by mysterio
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To: shove_it
Thread hijack - I remember when the greenies used to tout natural gas as a clean fuel because the primary emissions were water vapor and CO2. Now, with CO2 being a goblin of "climate change", they condemn natural gas as being a contributor because of the very reason they loved it in the before time.
10 posted on 02/11/2010 6:36:55 AM PST by IYAS9YAS (The townhalls were going great until the oPods showed up.)
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To: shove_it

Bookmark


11 posted on 02/11/2010 6:39:12 AM PST by squarebarb
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To: IYAS9YAS

We already have CNG buses and garbage trucks here in San Diego and there have been no problems. People don’t even realize it.
I was involved in India when they started switching buses and taxi’s to CNG city by city. The impact there on pollution was dramatic going from smokey old diesels to CNG.


12 posted on 02/11/2010 6:40:34 AM PST by Oldexpat
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To: shove_it

I’ve considered a nat gas vehicle. The problem is there are no public refueling stations near me, and a home fueling station is too expensive.


13 posted on 02/11/2010 6:41:14 AM PST by jaydubya2
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To: shove_it
We were using L.P. gas back in the fifties and it worked well. It is higher octane but less btu’s. It is a perfect fuel for many things and to valuable to use in trucks.
14 posted on 02/11/2010 6:42:16 AM PST by Big Horn (Rebuild the GOP to a conservative party)
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To: milwguy
Everyone is missing the point.

We will always need a lot of oil because almost everything we use is based on a petroleum byproduct.

Your computer keyboard, the case your computer is in, the internal parts, the plastic cell phone, your fountain pen, your closes, other than wool, Cotton and silk,etc.

Play a little game. Don't move from your chair and look around your room and count all of the the things you see that are some form of petroleum based product.

Even if our use for fuel drops, production of all of those items will grow unless we go into a barn burning depression.

15 posted on 02/11/2010 6:49:27 AM PST by old curmudgeon
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To: IYAS9YAS
Now, with CO2 being a goblin of "climate change", they condemn natural gas as being a contributor because of the very reason they loved it in the before time.

Natural gas is considered "less bad" than petroleum based fuels because it releases less CO2 per unit of energy. About half as much, if I remember correctly.

16 posted on 02/11/2010 6:51:21 AM PST by Sherman Logan (Never confuse schooling with education.)
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To: shove_it

I have a bi fuel vehicle that uses CNG & Gasoline. There are practical problems to using cng as the main fuel source.

First, you have to be confident enough to drive around with a tank of COMPRESSED fuel. If that thing leaks or is struck, it aint just going to spill on the ground.

Second, the CNG is less efficient than gas when you look at miles per BTU. This also translates into the CNG tank system taking up more space in the vehicle for less miles per tankful. This has something to do with how much the cng is compressed, but it’s nothing anyone would have control over to change. The mileage per btu is better by with gas than CNG.

Third, the BTU problem also translates into difficulties starting the vehicle when it’s cold out. The engine will crank literally 9 or 10 times under just chilly or damp conditions. Luckily, the bi-fuel computer in my vehicle figures this out and switches to gas when it detects this condition. (as long as you know it will do this if it cranks 10 times in a row) Then it starts on one or two cranks.

I would add the bi-fuel doesnt help much. I’ve got two fuel tanks, and little trunk space. Gas is better.


17 posted on 02/11/2010 6:52:59 AM PST by naguszed
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To: old curmudgeon

“We will always need a lot of oil because almost everything we use is based on a petroleum byproduct.”

I have seen figures that say only about 45% of our oil usage is for energy. The rest is for all of the products that are made from petroleum. Petroleum is a raw material for the chemical industry. Also for the pharmaceutical industry. etc etc etc.


18 posted on 02/11/2010 7:03:24 AM PST by GGpaX4DumpedTea (I am a tea party descendant - steeped in the Constitutional legacy handed down by the Founders)
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To: Vaquero

:we need to tap the huge gas reserves in PA and elsewhere....”

Some have said that one big coal mine pumps enough methane into the air every day that would furnish the daily natural gas needs for Pittsburg.


19 posted on 02/11/2010 7:05:48 AM PST by GGpaX4DumpedTea (I am a tea party descendant - steeped in the Constitutional legacy handed down by the Founders)
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To: naguszed
Second, the CNG is less efficient than gas when you look at miles per BTU.

Ditto. I was all in favor of an NG car until I drove one and saw the tank go half empty on a 100 mile trip.

20 posted on 02/11/2010 7:08:23 AM PST by aimhigh
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To: milwguy

I’ve been thinking that IF electric vehicles will ever become usable, they will need to rely on distributed power generation. Meaning the power to run them must be produced somewhere near where the thing is parked. Solar and wind are not the answer to that issue yet - and may never be. It will be interesting to see if American ingenuity is still capable of solving this problem.

Btw, would you mind sending me a private message concerning where you live? I’m from nearby the place your user name suggests.


21 posted on 02/11/2010 7:10:13 AM PST by stefanbatory (Weed out the RINOs! Sign the pledge. conservativepledge.org)
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To: GGpaX4DumpedTea
Some have said that one big coal mine pumps enough methane into the air every day that would furnish the daily natural gas needs for Pittsburg.

well there ya go.....

22 posted on 02/11/2010 7:11:05 AM PST by Vaquero (BHO....'The Pretenda from Kenya')
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To: GGpaX4DumpedTea

Right on.

Even down to the ladies’ beauty products.


23 posted on 02/11/2010 7:12:31 AM PST by old curmudgeon
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To: shove_it

To my mind, the solution revolves around numerous nuclear power plants and electric cars.


24 posted on 02/11/2010 7:21:25 AM PST by Darteaus94025
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To: old curmudgeon

American ingenuity may have come up with a solution to that problem too. I make no claims as to the veracity of this info, but you will see that this company has partnered with P&G to develop the technology further. There may be something to it.


25 posted on 02/11/2010 7:28:39 AM PST by stefanbatory (Weed out the RINOs! Sign the pledge. conservativepledge.org)
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To: naguszed

Do you mean miles per BTU or miles per pound, or miles per volume of gas tank.

Miles per BTU suggests that natural gas doesn’t convert to mechanical energy as efficiently as petroleum, which implies to me that a natural gas engine must have lower compression ratio than natural gas. I don’t think that is true.


26 posted on 02/11/2010 7:34:29 AM PST by frposty (I'm a simpleton)
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To: shove_it

Enough of this drivel about petroleum! Let’s just skip to cold water fusion and be done with it! You know we can do it! It’s just big oil and Halliburton standing in the way!!! /s


27 posted on 02/11/2010 7:35:06 AM PST by Paco
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To: shove_it

We need to stop looking at energy by itself. As the corn ethanol debacle should have shown people, you can’t just raid another sector without consequences.

Corn is better used as food, and natural gas is better used as chemical feedstock for industry. If we burn it faster, watch prices of other goods shoot up. Watch us eventually have to use alternatives to produce necessary industrial materials.


28 posted on 02/11/2010 7:42:02 AM PST by Gondring (Paul Revere would have been flamed as a naysayer troll and told to go back to Boston.)
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To: old curmudgeon
Even down to the ladies’ beauty products.

Only the Hollywood lefties are affected by that.

29 posted on 02/11/2010 7:46:41 AM PST by Gondring (Paul Revere would have been flamed as a naysayer troll and told to go back to Boston.)
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To: shove_it
Here's Michael Fitzsimmon's reply to the author of this article from the Seeking Alpha 'comments' section:

"How can you justify such a title when simple math shows running half the American car and truck fleet on natural gas would *reduce* oil consumption by around 6 million barrels a day? Let me recommend a better (yet long-winded) title which is much more accurate:

"Natural gas vehicles won't decrease oil consumption because American policymakers prevent NGVs, natural gas refueling stations, and the "Phill" home garage nat gas refueling appliance from being available to the American public."

There, that's about right.

Meanwhile, in 2009, the US: - Imported 4.35 billion barrels of oil - which was 63% of total oil consumption - for which we sent $265 Billion overseas

Apparently, the "policymakers" "solution" to this moronic US energy crisis is to print more fiat money in an wrong-headed attempt to address a commodity problem (oil) with financial tom-foolery. It simply won't work in the future (and isn't working now). America's dependence on foreign oil is its #1 economic problem from which all others emanate. Instead of addressing the root problem by switching transportation to American produced natural gas and thereby: 1) keeping hundreds of billions (and in the future trillions..) of dollars at home 2) creating millions of good paying jobs in the auto, energy, and infrastructure sectors 3) paying royalties to landowners and farmers instead of foreign oil producers (many whom don't like us too much) 4) removing the need to fight oil wars 5) prevent funding both sides of the "war on terror"

Oh, and just for a kicker, we reduce CO2 emissions 30% and particulate emissions by 100% (over gasoline powered cars and trucks). Yeah boy, that's alot of "rhetoric". But your charts are very fancy, i'll give ya that.

Here is the real solution - a long-term, comprehensive, strategic energy policy:

thefitzman.blogspot.co...

And I repeat: Energy Secretary Chu should resign or be fired. Any energy secretary who believes in the oxymoron of "clean coal" and is agnostic about America's cheapest, cleanest, and most abundant source of energy (natural gas) has obviously risen to the level of incompetence. Feb 07 11:21 AM !"

30 posted on 02/11/2010 7:49:32 AM PST by shove_it (and have a nice day)
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To: old curmudgeon
"We will always need a lot of oil because almost everything we use is based on a petroleum byproduct. Your computer keyboard, the case your computer is in, the internal parts, the plastic cell phone, your fountain pen, your closes, other than wool, Cotton and silk,etc.

The amount of oil in those products is tiny compared to the amount burned for transportation.

31 posted on 02/11/2010 7:49:40 AM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel (NRA))
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To: GGpaX4DumpedTea

“The manufacture of all plastics consumed approximately three percent of the total petroleum used in the US in 1997, and PS (polystyrene) production comprised approximately .002 percent of that amount. Comparatively, 71 percent of total petroleum used in the US is used for gasoline, jet, and diesel fuel, and 26 percent for the production of asphalt, oils
and lubricants.”

http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_plastics/doc_pfpg.asp?CID=1417&DID=5332


32 posted on 02/11/2010 7:52:52 AM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel (NRA))
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To: Wonder Warthog

Present some numbers.


33 posted on 02/11/2010 8:04:08 AM PST by old curmudgeon
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To: Oldexpat
I'm not saying CNG is a bad thing, I'm just saying that CO2 is now a bad thing in the enviro's eyes.

At some point, even CNG is going to be demonized - just wait.

34 posted on 02/11/2010 8:07:57 AM PST by IYAS9YAS (The townhalls were going great until the oPods showed up.)
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To: old curmudgeon

You’re right that the use of crude oil won’t go down due to other needs for it. But I see theissue of propane of NG powered vehicles as legitimate. If the need for crude doesn’t decrease, we can reduce the increase in need. I see this as something large cities and organized fleets may do, if there’s a cost benefit. It’s impractical for you and I to drive a propane or NG powered vehicle - not so much for a city fleet, USPS, Utility, etc.

Perhaps if these users create a demand, then filling stations will get built to fill the demand. If so, then we might see this become practical for the consumer.


35 posted on 02/11/2010 8:35:39 AM PST by sig226 (Bring back Jimmy Carter!)
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To: cripplecreek
So what happens to home heating costs for those of us who heat with gas?

It will skyrocket due to the 0bama Greenie Policy of don't drill, don't dig coal, don't research nuclear.

The Petro Chemical industry gobbles up vast amounts of oil to use in their products.

Check any large oil company, national or international, for a division called Natural Gas Liquids also known in the oil industry as NGL for uses of natural gas and similar oil products.

36 posted on 02/11/2010 9:09:50 AM PST by TYVets (Let's Roll!!! The leadership of the GOP has no spine and no guts, but we conservatives do)
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To: old curmudgeon

Post #32


37 posted on 02/11/2010 9:33:35 AM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel (NRA))
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To: frposty

I think miles per BTU. But obviously the car uses the same engine for both fuels.

In any event- the car gets 20% better MPG on gas than it does in cng. When both are measured in gallons. That should be something that carries into a BTU measurement, since we are comparing two combustible fuels.

When it runs on CNG, I find it’s noticeably less responsive when pressing the floor pedal. ie..has to go down closer to the floor when on on cng than gas.


38 posted on 02/11/2010 10:56:38 AM PST by naguszed
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To: mountainlion
Natural gas liquefies around 3500 pounds where propane is about 150 PSI. The cost of liquefying natural gas uses as much energy as you liquefy. 50% efficiency is not good next to 100% with propane. Would you like a ride on a bus setting on high pressure flammable container? Why not drill for oil and make more refineries? That would be the easy out!
I dunno if your figures are correct, but if so it would seem that a substantial fraction of that 50% "loss" could be recovered in a turbine when the gas was used.

Partial oxidation of natural gas to an alcohol would be more efficient than losing 50% of the energy to compress the gas . . .


39 posted on 02/11/2010 11:40:35 AM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion ( DRAFT PALIN)
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
I dunno if your figures are correct, but if so it would seem that a substantial fraction of that 50% “loss” could be recovered in a turbine when the gas was used.

I never saw an 18 turbine in an 18 wheeler. Natural gas is OK for stationary engines but I don’t think I would ride a bus powered with that much high pressure fuel. Propane is different. Both are more dangerous and flammable than Diesel.

40 posted on 02/11/2010 11:50:52 AM PST by mountainlion (concerned conservative.)
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To: milwguy
Oil shale was recoverable at $40 per barrel according to the Denver Post. EPA has banned most efficient foreign diesel engines. We have some of the largest supplies of oil on earth but the democrats have decided to shut them down. Why not just drill and get back to Clintons $20 bbl oil? Because the dollar is tied to crude oil and the democrats want to pay off the saudis with $250B last year.
41 posted on 02/11/2010 11:56:28 AM PST by mountainlion (concerned conservative.)
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To: naguszed

“20% better MPG”

Likely because a gallon of gas has 20% more BTU in it than a gallon of CNG. Good grief a gallon of gas must weigh a lot more than a gallon of CNG, which is not liquid, correct?

Seems like liquid propane would be preferable to LNG. Why am I wrong?


42 posted on 02/11/2010 12:14:53 PM PST by frposty (I'm a simpleton)
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To: frposty

CNG & LNG are different. CNG is gaseous. LNG is chilled to reduce its volume.

I could be wrong on the whole BTU thing. all i know is CNG is less efficient than gas in the engine i have, which is a gas engine.


43 posted on 02/11/2010 1:30:53 PM PST by naguszed
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To: Wonder Warthog

You still need jet fuel.

You still need asphalt.

You must have lubrication oils.

Even though plastics take a small amount of a barrel percentage wise, they are essential to our way of life.

You are not going to make all of the computers, cell phones, etc ., out of wood, aluminum (which is now being harassed by EPA), etc.

Rayon, nylon, polyesters, etc., are here to stay.

As I understand it, you can’t turn an entire barrel of oil into these products as these are products of the refining process, more or less depending on whether the crude is light or heavy.

So we will end up with the need for huge amounts of crude even if we throw away that part that we now make into gasoline....

Now that well may be an exaggeration to make a point, but there is enough truth in it to kill the idea that we are going to end our love of crude oil.

The real solution is to develop every single means of finding and recovering oil deposits.

Obviously natural gas has its place and I am all for using it in its place, but we are kidding ourselves if we think our need for oil will go away.

The poster who said that it is fine for trucks, buses and fleets but not for me is correct. It will only be used in private vehicles when it is the only thing left.


44 posted on 02/11/2010 1:55:34 PM PST by old curmudgeon
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To: old curmudgeon
Two points.

First point...any of the items you list can be synthesized from other sources of feedstocks. It just takes energy. Ultimately, we could make all that stuff from CO2 in the air, and water. It is just a lot easier to derive it from the more convenient form that is petroleum. Before the first oil well was ever drilled, most organic chemicals were synthesized from coal and its byproducts in industrial-scale quantities.

Second point...if we divorce ourselves from oil-derived transportation fuels, we will have plenty of our own petroleum for the uses you list.

45 posted on 02/11/2010 3:04:12 PM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel (NRA))
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