Monday, March 9, 2009

Perspective on the US natural gas supply & demand from Bentek

Follow this link to view a presentation (*.pdf) by Bentek, an analysis company that tracks natural gas supply/demand trends. The presentation reviews the current state of US natural gas supply and demand - ending with following conclusions:
  • 2008 belied the notion that the US is running out of natural gas.
  • The US is long supply; prices will continue to fall.
  • Regional pipeline constraints exacerbate the bear trend.
  • REX East will have limited impact on Rockies prices – it is already full.
  • SE Supply Area gas will keep CA prices stable.
  • Exploration activity must fall by over 20% in the Rockies and the Gulf for production to fit within capacity.
  • Additional capacity will be needed in the Rockies, Gulf and Appalachia, but before new capacity can be profitable, demand must grow significantly .
  • Constraints will set the minimum and maximum price for gas.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More CNG vehicle options - F-150 & Focus

Found more CNG options at Jim Norton Ford in Broken Arrow - 2009 F-150 and the 2009 Focus. After the federal and state income tax credits, the Focus cost $1,700 to convert to dedicated natural gas with a 9 gge tank in the trunk (similar to Honda Civic GX). Can choose any Focus to convert, including those with standard transmissions (which is not possible with the Civic GX). Could also keep the Focus as a bi-fuel, but that would cause the $4,000 federal tax credit to be lost...

The F-150 is a very attractive option - I'm narrowing in on the SuperCrew cab with a 5.5 foot bed. Jim Norton would install a 21 gge Lincoln Composite tank in the bed and cover the entire bed with a fiberglass tonneau. For an additional $3,500, they will add a 9 gge steel tank where the gas tank was. This would give the F-150 a range over 500 miles! The conversion cost after tax credits would be about $3,000 for the 21 gge; $4,750 for the 30 gge.

Doing some payback math on the 21 gge conversion - at today's gasoline price ($1.60) & CNG price ($1.00) and 18 mpg, breakeven would occur at 90,000 miles. If the CNG price drops to $0.80, then breakeven at 67,000 miles and at a CNG price of $0.60, then breakeven at 55,000 miles.

Next step is to meet with the CNG conversion manager at Jim Norton Ford to understand more of the technical details of the conversion. The regulator is installed under the hood, rather than under the car as in the Impala. The conversion kit is by Ecofuel from Canada. This is the 2009 F-150 that is being tested right now.

It's too bad that the feds won't allow the fed tax credit on a bi-fuel vehicle. That would greatly assist the adoption of CNG in the US. I drove a bi-fuel F-250 - it switches on the fly between gasoline and CNG. Sweet, but you lose the $4,000 credit...