Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Increased Usage of Natural Gas Aim of Energy Plan

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Increased Usage of Natural Gas Aim of Energy Plan

Article excerpt

Compressed natural gas vehicles could provide Oklahoma natural gas producers with a potential market for an additional 101 billion cubic feet of the commodity, according to the first portion of the state Energy Plan released Friday.

As promising as that prediction sounds, the plan noted that the most significant new market for Oklahoma natural gas is electric power generation among utilities, cogeneration and independent power.

"As Oklahoma reshapes its economy to meet the challenge of the international marketplace, our energy resource base must be used as our bridge to the future," said Barnet Groten, executive director of the Energy Center at the University of Oklahoma.

The Energy Center prepared the plan in consultation with the Governor's Energy Advisory Council, which Groten chairs. Contract cost for the project was $16,000.

Future sections of the Energy Plan will address petroleum in February, coal and electric power in April, the environment and conservation in July and energy, technology and economic development in September. Each section would be updated periodically.

Numerous state initiatives are outlined in the plan for natural gas vehicles and electric power generation. Many of those initiatives such as a state fleet conversion project and increased intervention by the state into federal regulatory issues are under way. A proposed compressed natural gas vehicle bill also has been introduced by Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner James B. Townsend.

The plan also defines a need to develop standard energy accounting procedures, a computerized model of the pipeline network in the state and revisions to gas balancing and royalty payment practices plus a centralization of oil and gas filings.

"I'm not ready at this point to endorse everything in the report," said Gov. Henry Bellmon, "but we will enbrace as much of it as we can."

William C. Liedtke III, special energy aide to the governor, said the energy issue is perceived as non-partisan among state lawmakers and one that needs attention.

Primary goals of the plan are to create new jobs and bolster the state's economy through strategic use of the state's energy resources. Oklahoma is the third largest supplier of natural gas in the U.S.

If just half of the 250,000 or so commercial vehicles in the state such as trucks, taxis and buses ran on compressed natural gas, the plan forecasts a new market for 32 billion cubic feet of Oklahoma gas. Plus, if one quarter of the estimated 2.2 million cars on Oklahoma roads were converted, the plan identified another 69 billion cubic feet market.

There also would be a bonus to natural gas vehicles, the plan said, of developing support businesses that would create new jobs.

By 2000, the U.S. Department of Energy projects natural gas consumption to climb 14 percent to 20.3 trillion cubic feet from 17.8 trillion cubic feet in 1988. Electric power generation is predicted to account for 95 percent of the 2.5 trillion cubic feet rise.

Proportionate increases to the use of Oklahoma natural gas were not specifically identified in the Energy Plan, but the East and Northeast markets where electrical shortages are forecast were targeted for expansion of Oklahoma gas exports. …

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