Industry leaders talk to community about using natural gas in vehicles

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

April 10, 2014 at 6:04 p.m.
Updated April 9, 2014 at 11:10 p.m.

Now is the time to start thinking about natural gas, energy experts said Thursday.

A small group of business managers and owners attended a natural gas workshop Thursday at the Victoria Public Library hosted by the Texas Railroad Commission.

"The U.S. is behind in natural gas vehicles, but we have the most natural gas in the world," said Eddie Murray of Southwestern Energy.

There are only about 140,000 natural gas vehicles in the country, he said, while South America and Asia have millions of natural gas vehicles on the roads today. Not only is natural gas safe, but it's also environmentally friendly and could offer fleet managers a new way to save money spent on fuel.

Murray said Southwestern Energy was able to save about $850,000 a year with its 219 compressed natural gas vehicles in its 300-unit fleet.

In the long run, vehicles that run on compressed natural gas run cleaner, more efficiently and require less maintenance, according to information from the Apache Corporation.

Frank Chapel, of Apache Corp., spoke to the group about expanding natural gas to also serve the oil company's endeavors.

"Natural gas can be used for drilling rigs and hydraulic fracking," he said.

The energy company has been partnering with companies in the oil and gas industry to transition vehicles and machines to use compressed natural gas rather than tradition methods of gas and diesel, including a fueling pump in El Campo.

The biggest problem, Chapel said, is the lack of education about the benefits of natural gas.

There is a huge opportunity to reduce dependence on foreign oil because of the amount of natural gas available in this country.

"North America has more natural gas than Saudi Arabia has oil," he said.

Lisa Martin of Tiger Industrial Rentals attended the workshop to learn more about using natural gas in her field and everyday use.

"It was an eye-opener," she said. "I was impressed to see how far they have come with personal vehicles and home pumping stations."

Tiger Industrial works in all aspects of the oil industry, she said, including drilling, completion, production, pipelines and industrial plants.

"It's interesting to know what's going on," Martin, 35, of Cuero, said. "We're always looking at eco-friendly techniques, and this is our kind of thing."

Chapel said education is essential to making the transition work.

"Summits like this are valuable," he said. "More local events in smaller towns are important."



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