The Ninth Annual Energy Conference Twitter Contest!

Have a great quote, comment, or question you’d like to share from the Ninth Annual Energy Conference? Share it with us on Twitter!

By adding the hashtag: #2012AEC to the end of your tweet you’ll be entered to win our Twitter contest and take home an iPod shuffle (in a natural gas themed blue of course). By including “#2012AEC” in your tweet other conference attendees and our staff will be able to see what you’ve tweeted and most importantly enter you into the drawing for the iPod.

Not sure what the heck Twitter is but still want to participate? You can create an account here. Once you’ve signed up click here to get more information on just what a hash tag is.

The Week in Gas: Week of April 30, 2012

Plenty of gas news to go around this week, of course natural gas powered vehicles remain a hot topic; we’re also getting a clearer picture of what the summer may hold for natural gas electric generation. Also, keep an eye out for the 2012 version of our annual Gas Outlook; it will be released in the coming weeks. Now on to the links:

Access to alternative transportation fuel stations varies across the lower 48 states” (EIA-Today in Energy)

Follow the link for interactive maps of planned and existing automobile alternative fueling stations. The most exciting takeaway: Plenty of CNG and LNG stations are on the horizon, not a bad way to gas up with current natural gas fuel gallon equivalents coming in at less than half what gasoline costs.

“Natural Gas-Powered Vehicles a Priority for Some Governors” (Governing.com)

Keeping the Natural Gas Vehicle theme going, NGVs are getting a long look from some state governors as a way to reduce costs and emissions, nice to see the momentum continuing to grow.

Key Point: A group of 13 governors is hoping to interest automakers in a plan aimed at boosting demand for vehicles powered by compressed natural gas. It’s an effort meant to capitalize on record low natural gas prices at a time when high oil prices cause sticker shock at the fuel pump.

“Analysts hold better outlook for natural gas prices” (Calgary Herald)

While these historically low prices for natural gas have been good for consumers, there have been some concerns that the prices are unsustainable for producers in the long term. As this article explains, there could be a small rebound this year as the market settles at a more stable long term price. Note that the long term price should still be far below what we paid for gas before the advent of shale gas production.

Key Point: …demand for natural gas has been masked by a mild winter, but power generators have been shifting to the fuel from coal by as much as five million cubic feet per day, year to date, in the U.S., Canada’s main market.

The analyst noted a 900 billion cubic feet surplus of gas in storage in the United States over the five-year average was equivalent to the heating demand lost by residential and commercial users this past winter.

At any rate, natural gas prices have sunk so low, there is more room to move up than to move down, he said.

“Markets Outpace Regulators in Evaluating Export Projects” (AOL Energy)

It remains to be seen whether we’ll have any LNG export facilities in the Pacific Northwest, those talks are ongoing. However, if you want a good overview of what’s going on in the LNG export world this article is as good a place to start as any.

Key Point: …applications are pending for nine other facilities, for exports totaling 11.5 billion cubic feet/day more. Current US natural gas production is running about 82 Bcf/d, according to the Energy Information Administration, so all those exports potentially cover 17% of US production. Exports are routinely approved to nations with US Free Trade Agreements, but those countries are not big gas importers. Aspiring exporters want authorizations to sell to non-FTA countries.

“The Week in Gas” is posted each Friday, spotlighting some of the most interesting gas related stories we come across each week.

Follow the NWGA on Twitter: @Ben_at_NWGA

Natural Gas Term of the Week: Direct Connect Customers

What it means: Usually very large industrial customers connected directly to an interstate pipeline system. These customers purchase their own gas supplies and contract directly from the pipeline for transportation, thereby bypassing the bundled services typically offered by local distribution companies.

See it in action: What do you do if you want to use natural gas for a large industrial application but you’re miles away from the nearest local distribution company (LDC)? If you’re lucky you can call up one of the pipelines serving the region and buy gas directly from them.

Have a look at our map of the region’s natural gas system to get an idea of where direct connect customers could be located. As you can see LDCs focus on more populous areas, it’s not cost effective to build distribution lines to homes located many miles apart.  Industrial users can consume significant amounts of gas so even if they are located far from the nearest LDC it may make financial sense for them to work directly with a pipeline to secure a clean and cost effective way to power their industrial application.

Natural Gas Terms of the Week are posted each Monday, check back weekly to boost your natural gas IQ.

Follow the NWGA on Twitter: @Ben_at_NWGA

Natural Gas Term of the Week: Sweet vs. Sour Gas

What it means: Refers to the quality of natural gas upon its extraction. Sweet Gas in its natural state be used with little purifying. Sour Gas contains enough sulfur in its natural state to make it impractical to use without purifying.

See it in action: The gas that shows up at your cooking range or water heater is composed almost entirely of methane but in many cases it comes out of the ground with a number of other components mixed in.

Some of these surplus compounds, like natural gas liquids, are separated out and utilized for other industrial uses. In the case of Sour Gas that sulfur needs to be removed because it can be extremely corrosive, not a good quality for something that has to travel long distances in a pipeline.  The good news, once that sulfur is removed Sour Gas will cook your food, heat your water and warm up your home just as well as its Sweet counterpart.

Want to get into the nuts and bolts of how Sour Gas is refined? Here’s a report by Shell that does just that.

Natural Gas Terms of the Week are posted each Monday, check back weekly to boost your natural gas IQ.

Follow the NWGA on Twitter: @Ben_at_NWGA

Natural Gas Term of the Week: Biomethane

What it means: Biogas, produced through the anaerobic digestion of organic matter, that has been upgraded to purity levels making it interchangeable with natural gas.  Also referred to as “renewable natural gas”, biomethane can be sourced from all manner of decaying matter, from agricultural byproducts including cow manure to purified landfill gas.

See it in action: FortisBC and NW Natural are among the NWGA members getting involved with biomethane. Both have programs allowing utility customers to purchase some portion of their monthly natural gas usage as biomethane, reducing their carbon footprint.

For a slightly more in depth overview of FortisBC’s program carve 3 minutes out of your day and check out this video:

Natural Gas Terms of the Week are posted each Monday, check back weekly to boost your natural gas IQ, follow the NWGA on Twitter: @Ben_at_NWGA