“What’s Up With Gas?” NWGA in the News

Last week NWGA Executive Director, Dan Kirschner, was the keynote speaker for a series of three community talks hosted by NWGA member, Intermountain Gas. Dan gave attendees some insight into the changing nature of the gas industry, the scale of the shale gas revolution and an overview of emerging markets such as natural gas for transportation.

If you like what you see let us know, Dan rarely turns down a speaking opportunity, he’s also available for children’s birthday parties (if your kids enjoy natural gas facts).

Here’s coverage of Dan’s presentation from Twin Falls, Idaho station, KMVT:

 

The Week in Gas: Week of August 27, 2012.

A few interesting items to cover this week, but first a big congratulations to two members of the NWGA Board of Directors, K. Frank Morehouse and Scott Madison, for accepting new roles with MDU Resources.

 “Coal Fired Power Loses to Natural Gas and Renewables in the West” (Denverpost.com)

This week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hosted a daylong summit in Portland for west coast energy stakeholders to discuss the growing use of natural gas for power generation. Articles like this demonstrate how far along the road we already are when it comes to gas becoming a primary generation fuel in the U.S.

Key Point: Natural-gas accounts for 22 percent of western generation. Still, in the last 15 years natural-gas generation has more than quadrupled to 79.8 million megawatt-hours in 2011, according to the WRA report.

“New Methane Hydrate Research: Investing in our Energy Future” (Energy.gov)

We’ve highlighted methane hydrates in a blog post before, some consider them to be  a huge part of our energy future due to the amount of energy stored in as natural gas in ice under the ocean.  It will be interesting to see what studies like this one come up with.

Key Point: The Energy Department announced today an investment of nearly $5.6 million in 14 research projects designed to help us better understand the impacts of methane hydrates on our future energy supply. The projects will focus on field programs for deepwater hydrate characterization, the response of methane hydrate systems to changing climates, and advances in the understanding of gas-hydrate-bearing sediments.

Finally, here’s a great video giving an overview of an Avista natural gas generation plant, have a look before starting your holiday weekend:

 

“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: Dig-In

Natural Gas Term of the Week: When buried gas facilities (or other underground utilities) are damaged by excavation.

What it means: Gas transmission and distribution pipes are typically found below ground, this keeps them safe from disturbances related to weather but it’s an issue when someone starts digging without knowing what’s below their feet.

To be informed about the location of utilities before digging it’s important to always Call 811 before you dig.  There’s no charge to have a professional come out and mark the underground utilities where you plan to dig.

What happens if a dig in does occur? Your local gas utility is prepared and works with emergency services to ensure a coordinated response if necessary.  NWGA member companies put plenty of effort into spreading the dig safely message, check out this recent commercial released by Avista Utilities:

A Natural Gas Term of the Week is 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: Odorant

What it means: Any material added to natural or LP gas in small concentrations to impart a distinctive odor. Odorants in common use include various mercaptans and organic sulfides.

See it in action: That rotten egg smell when natural gas is present isn’t actually the gas at all.  Natural gas is odorless, so special additives, typically a naturally occurring substance called mercaptan, are inserted into the gas transmission system to ensure you know when gas is around.

That smell is unpleasant on purpose, if you catch a whiff call your utility, it may indicate a gas leak. NW Natural has a good overview of what steps you should take if that rotten egg smell catches your attention.


Want natural gas that smells a little better?  You won’t find it in your home, since that odor serves an important purpose. However, the Volcano at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas strips out the odorants in the gas that powers their nightly shows, and replaces it with something a little more festive…the smell of Pina Coladas.

A Natural Gas Term of the Week is posted each Monday, check back weekly to boost your natural gas IQ.  Follow the NWGA on Twitter @Ben_at_NWGA

What Powers a Natural Gas Utility? Avista’s New Commercial Has an Interesting Answer…

While it might be natural gas that’s cooking your food, heating your water and warming up your home, there’s something else that powers a natural gas utility… Avista Utilities began airing new commercials this week highlighting that special fuel, any guesses? It’s people!

Don’t think Soylent Green, think of the hundreds (or thousands) of employees required to make a utility work. Avista and other gas and power utilities are large and complex companies, but unlike certain other utility providers (think cable and phone companies) they are often headquartered right where they operate. Meaning those people on the other side of your gas meter, whether they’re ensuring pipeline safety, answering customer calls or planning the next system expansion, are your neighbors as well.

Have a look at the new commercial below:

Natural Gas Term of the Week: Marine Fuel

What it Means:Refers to the heavy oil used to power large oceangoing vessels such as ferries and freight tankers; also referred to as bunker fuel.

See it in Action:What does marine fuel have to do with natural gas? Plenty!

As shippers look for more environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternatives to bunker fuel they are increasingly turning their attention to natural gas in both its compressed and liquefied forms. Making the switch results in significant reductions in greenhouse gas (20-30%) and sulfur oxide (90%+) while allowing shippers to reap the rewards of historically low current natural gas prices.

The Washington State Ferry System received publicity recently for their interest in switching to Liquefied Natural Gas to fuel their fleet and there could be more on the way. A number of shipping companies on the West Coast are also exploring conversions to natural gas. Keep an eye out for more developments!

A Natural Gas Term of the Week is 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: Gasification

What it means: The process during which liquefied natural gas (LNG) is returned to its vapor or gaseous state through an increase in temperature and a decrease in pressure.

See it in action: While LNG is an excellent method for the storage and transport of natural gas; conventional use requires it to be warmed from its liquid form at -160c (-256f) back to a gas. This physical process involves slowly warming the LNG through a series of pipes and vaporizers. Four NWGA members own and operate their own LNG facilities as a means of providing extra capacity in times of high demand, they are:

  • FortisBC, on Vancouver Island
  • Intermountain Gas, in Nampa, ID
  • NW Natural, in Portland, OR and Newport, OR
  • Williams NW Pipeline in Plymouth, WA

Each facility siphons off a small portion of their gas supply during warmer months to be stored as LNG; once needed, this LNG undergoes gasification and is added to the system to ensure adequate supply for customers.

A Natural Gas Term of the Week is 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: BTU

What it means: British thermal unit, a measure of the energy content of a fuel. The heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at a specified temperature and pressure. One Btu equals 252 calories, 778 foot pounds, 1,055 joules or .293 watt hours. One cubic foot of natural gas contains about 1,027 Btus.

See it in action: Btus are a useful means of comparing the energy content across the differing units of measurement used for different fuel sources.

A Natural Gas Term of the Week is posted each Monday, check back weekly to boost your natural gas IQ.  Follow the NWGA on Twitter @Ben_at_NWGA

Get To Know Our New Website: The Annual Energy Conference Kindle Contest

The NWGA has a revamped website and we’d like you to have a look around our shiny new digs. If you’re an attendee at our Annual Energy Conference find the answers to the following three questions on our website and email them to Ben Hemson at bhemson@nwga.org by 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 7th. Correct responses will be entered for a chance to win a Kindle Touch.

  1. According to the NWGA’s 2012 Natural Gas Outlook, what is the projected annual growth rate for natural gas consumption in the Northwest? (Hint: you can find the answer on our website and in the demand section of the 2012 Outlook Document).
  2. Summarize the NWGA’s mission in five words, extra points for creativity!
  3. What are the dates of the 2013 Annual Energy Conference? (Hint: Stare at the front page long enough and the answer may come to you).

Again, send your answers to Ben Hemson, bhemson@nwga.org by 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 7th. The winner will be announced during the conference’s closing remarks.

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.

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

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