Future Role Of Natural Gas And Shale Revolution Dominate At P&GJ’s 2010 Pipeline Opportunities Conference

P&GJ’s 2010 Pipeline Opportunities Conference
By Rita Tubb, Managing Editor | June 2010 Vol. 65 No. 6

Fulwood shared a scenario on how the carbon pact that may be imposed later this year could be met. “You could meet that pact guideline, or come very close to it, if you displace 40% of the existing coal generation with natural gas and renewables,” he explained. “This is not something that would require a ton of new gas-fired power plants, it is quite possible that a lot of this could come about with existing gas assets.”
The Nexant executive also touched on the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act (or NAT GAS Act), noting that it has big implications for the natural gas industry. The Act promotes the purchase and use of NGVs with an emphasis on heavy-duty and fleet vehicles.
“This has very positive benefits because it has the potential to displace half of our oil imports into the U.S.,” he said.

J. Mark Robinson, principal of JMR Energy Infra and a well-known official with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission until his retirement last year, said he sees transportation offering the greatest potential. He explained that 120 cubic feet of natural gas equals one gallon of gasoline, adding that natural gas could cut into the use of gasoline and in doing so, reduce oil consumption and the amount of pollutants going into the atmosphere.

By 2030, he said, about 10 Tcf could be devoted to transportation fuel.

Conversely, energy writer Robert Bryce, author of the just-published book Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy And The Real Fuels Of The Future, (Public Affairs, $27.95, 394 pp) sees things differently. Noting that billions of dollars have been spent in recent years to modify and expand refineries to produce more motor fuels such as diesel, he insisted that “Transportation will not be the key for natural gas use. Electricity generation will be. It will boil down to a political issue, though, and not an economic one. It’s all about politics and everyone in the industry needs to understand that.”

Pace Executive Vice President James Diemer also outlined the importance of natural gas in power generation in his presentation. He predicted that new regulations could result in the shutdown of older coal-fired power plants across the U.S. as owners face the possibility of spending millions of dollars to bring plants into compliance while still facing an uncertain future.

Other highlights of the morning session included Ariel Corporation President and CEO Karen Buchwald Wright’s perspective on the nation’s natural gas business and some of the unique challenges the carbon-trading issue could hold for the industry.