Chris McGill Natural Gas Market Indicators: August 15, 2014

With underground storage exceeding 2.5 Tcf by August 15 and nearly 80 days remaining in the traditional injection season, an inventory of 3.5 Tcf or more to enter the winter appears very likely. A strong summer long injection season has been supported by cooler than normal temperatures, minimal supply disruptions due to hurricane activity and continued growth in domestic production.

When the 2014-15 winter begins, the nearly 4 Bcf per day of incremental production growth dating back to the beginning of the year will still be with us and will be a part of supply assets in place to meet winter heating season demand. Efficiency measures will still be putting downward pressure on average consumption per customer and in the local gas utility segment, more distribution pipeline will have been modernized creating a safer system. So many moving parts – and so many moving in the right direction.

Visit this link to download the full Natural Gas Market Indicators report. Topics covered in this week’s report include: Reported Prices, Weather, Working Gas in Underground Storage, Natural Gas Production, Shale Gas, Rig Counts, Pipeline Imports and Exports, and LNG Markets.

Please direct questions and comments to Chris McGill at cmcgill@aga.org or Richard Meyer at rmeyer@aga.org.

Posted in environment, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Market Indicators, science, weather | Leave a comment

Lisa Dundon AGA Members Mark 811 Day with Flash Mob, Giant Light Display and Man in Tutu

This past Monday, August 11, marked the Common Ground Alliance’s (CGA)’s annual National 811 Day to promote safe digging awareness and the Call Before You Dig campaign. Excavation damage continues to be the leading cause of pipeline incidents in the United States, though improvement is being made thanks to outreach efforts on the part of local natural gas utilities and other stakeholders.

Every year, as part of their commitment to safety, AGA’s member companies, the local natural gas utilities of America, educate customers and community members throughout the nation about the importance of locating pipelines before starting construction projects, planting or undertaking any kind of digging activity. Here are some highlights from the many activities that took place earlier this week:

  • 811 building BGE 300x199 AGA Members Mark 811 Day with Flash Mob, Giant Light Display and Man in TutuBaltimore Gas & Electric lit up downtown Baltimore with an impressive 811 window light display.
  • Consumers Energy took to social media to share a cute image of a dog digging a hole in the ground, to remind customers to call 811 before beginning any digging projects, big or small. One Facebook fan commented that she had never heard of 811 prior to the posting.
  • Atmos Energy teamed up with Texas 811 to hold the first 811 Day Extravaganza in Plano, Texas. More than 100 city officials, EMS workers and firefighters participated in hands-on digging demonstrations and roundtable discussions focused on safe digging practices. Watch video footage from the event here and view a photo gallery on Atmos Energy’s Facebook page.
  • Columbia Gas of Virginia kicked off the week by participating in several National Night Out events across the state, as well as Home Depot events, promoting 811 and pipeline safety. They also reached out to the public via customer emails, radio and digital ads, and a press release. Employees enjoyed 811 cake during meetings dedicated to safety.
  • Xcel Energy created a new and unique Call Before You Dig video and promoted it on YouTube and across their social media pages. The video, featuring a bearded fairy dressed in cut-off shorts and a tutu,received more than 1,600 views and the Facebook posts reached more than 136,000 people in less than 24 hours.
  • 811 flash mob 300x171 AGA Members Mark 811 Day with Flash Mob, Giant Light Display and Man in TutuAt Nicor Gas – AGL Resources, staff members partnered with the Aurora Junior Woman’s Club to present an 811 Day Flash Mob in front of the Cloud Gate sculpture (a.k.a. “The Bean”) in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. Over 50 dancers performed “Bright Lines” to the tune of Robin Thicke’s hit-song “Blurred Lines.”

Can’t wait another year for 811 Day? Every April is National Safe Digging Month(NSDM). Many utility companies air PSAs and TV spots, and carry out social media campaigns to promote safe digging, especially during planting season. In the meantime, you can make sure to urge your customers, friends and family to make the 811 Promise. Let us know about your future Call 811 activities in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what your utility has in the works!

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Lisa Dundon The Silent Transportation Revolution

Written By: AGA’s Vice President of Policy Strategy Kathryn Clay, Former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and University of Texas at Austin Professor of Mechanical Engineering Raymond L. Orbach

iStock 000005417609XSmall PREP 12 The Silent Transportation RevolutionWhile electric vehicles have captured news headlines, a second revolution has been quietly gaining traction in the U.S. transportation sector. Over the last five years, more than $450 million of private sector capital has been invested in natural gas fueling infrastructure. In fact, a technological breakthrough has enabled the development of both fuel storage enhancements and lighter stronger tanks that promise to increase range, reduce vehicle weight, and lower vehicle cost. Add historically-low natural gas prices to the mix, and these developments now position vehicles powered from natural gas to gain great market share within the transportation sector.

Natural gas vehicles have long suffered from a consumer perception of being “boring.” This perception has spread because the majority of compressed natural gas vehicles sold to date have been relegated to fleets, such as buses and delivery vehicles, where municipal governments and large corporations can take advantage of central fueling stations to reduce infrastructure costs.  For many individuals, their first encounter with a natural gas vehicle is a city bus, a United States Post Office delivery vehicle, or the car carrying the parking enforcement officer who just wrote you a parking ticket – not exactly the flashy marketing that surrounds the launch of most new vehicles today.

But all of this is changing, and with it, the country stands to gain profound energy security and environmental benefits.  Private companies, including many natural gas utilities, are investing in natural gas refueling stations.  As a result, the total number of compressed natural gas (CNG) stations nationwide has grown by nearly 80 percent since 2009.  The site locations are based on customers’ demands that CNG fueling stations be built near their key shipping lanes with proximity to major interstate highways. On the liquefied natural gas (LNG) side, Clean Energy Fuels has built a network of fueling stations along the I-40, I-10, and I-95 highways that support long-haul heavy-duty trucking, offering a viable alternative to diesel fuel for moving goods around the country.  And although the truck market may be small in absolute numbers, these vehicles travel great distances every year: medium- and heavy-duty trucks consume upwards of 90 percent of all diesel fuel used on highways in the United States.

Recent breakthroughs in metal-organic frameworks have been demonstrated to store up to three times the quantity of natural gas that would be contained in a conventional CNG tank at the same temperature and pressure. One gram of a metal-organic framework has the surface area equal to the size of a football field. This new storage capability has the potential to solve the range shortcoming that has plagued CNG vehicles, bringing the potential range on par with gasoline-fueled passenger cars.

On the fueling infrastructure side, the cost of home fueling infrastructure for a CNG vehicle is currently about $5,000. However, this too is on the verge of becoming dramatically cheaper, with companies like GE and Eaton in the process of rolling out new CNG fueling units at a tenth of the current cost, plus installation. Such a development means drivers might only stop at a gas station for a coffee.

In addition to direct combustion of natural gas, hydrogen can be easily produced by reforming natural gas.  Fuel cells utilizing hydrogen can propel vehicles electrically, with ranges comparable to current gasoline powered automobiles.  Hydrogen fueling stations are becoming more common, and automobile manufacturers are producing hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars in new 2015 models that emit only water vapor out of their tailpipe.

The bright prospects for vehicles that rely on natural gas truly is “good news” for the country because these vehicles provide much-needed diversity to the transportation sector, which is currently dependent on petroleum—and the perils of global oil markets—for more than 90 percent of fuel consumption.  Similarly, vehicles that rely on natural gas can offer tremendous optionality in the face of a global oil crisis, and also free up U.S.-produced petroleum products for our allies in times of need.

Although the progress has been great, this is not yet the time to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. The natural gas technologies for transportation coming to fruition today are a direct result of a long-term commitment to basic research and development of alternative technologies from both industry and government.  As we take stock of government spending—which we agree must be reduced in order to keep the national debt at a sustainable level—we should strive to make the strategic investments that the scientists and engineers tell us are needed.  Furthermore, bringing these technologies and supporting infrastructure to market will also require us to look at other factors, including siting and zoning for natural gas and hydrogen refueling stations, and calculating fuel economy standards across a range of technologies. Looking forward, vehicles relying on natural gas hold great promise, but our work is not yet finished until those promises become reality.

Posted in CNG, LNG, Natural Gas, transportation | Leave a comment

Lisa Dundon PSEG to Award $160,000 in Grants to Further STEM Education in New Jersey

How would your non-profit educational organization like to receive thousands of dollars in grants this summer? The Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG) Foundation is currently accepting applications from afterschool, summer and youth development programs to develop new or enhance existing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational opportunities for students.

The PSEG Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AGA member company PSEG, will consider applications from their New Jersey service territory, as well as Salem and Cumberland counties, and the service and operation territories in Long Island and Albany, New York, as well as Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut.

Each proposal will be evaluated based on the following factors:

  • Focus on academic enrichment with already existing programming
  • Strong, relevant and inspiring STEM content with focus on hands-on, experiential learning
  • Emphasis on the application and mastery of problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork skills
  • Number of students served
  • A commitment to continuous improvement, with a focus on outcomes and evaluation
  • Demonstrated level of involvement with local schools and/or families
  • Capacity to implement and sustain new programming
  • Demonstrated program sustainability

The Foundation anticipates awarding funding to eight organizations, although the number of recipients and their award amount will be decided based on the strength of the proposals received at the discretion of Foundation staff. Applications must be completed and submitted by Friday, August 15 at 5 p.m. EST. All applicants will receive notification about funding decisions in late September 2014.

Applicants interested in applying can do so directly through PSEG’s online application by clicking here. Check back with the AGA blog later this fall for an update on all the winning organizations.

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