Chesapeake Energy Corp. has eliminated its natural gas vehicle team as part of its ongoing corporate reorganization.
The seven-member team had been responsible for part of the Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas company’s efforts to develop additional markets for gas usage.
Chesapeake has declined to address specifics of its restructuring, but natural gas vehicle advocates don’t expect to lose much momentum.
Rich Kolodziej, president of advocacy group Natural Gas Vehicles for America, said Chesapeake has been an important player in growing the natural gas vehicle market, but other companies and organizations have taken on that role now.
America’s Natural Gas Alliance is dedicated to building demand for natural gas, including in the transportation sector, spokesman Dan Whitten said.
“That’s our main priority,” he said.
Whitten said the alliance, which represents the country’s largest independent exploration and production companies, talks to utilities, manufacturers and others about using more natural gas.
He said there are a lot of opportunities to use natural gas to improve the environment, economy and energy security in the U.S.
While others seem poised to step up, the future of website CNGNow.com remains in question. It includes a map of U.S. fueling stations that also is available with the CNGNow app, a security blanket for natural gas vehicle drivers.
The site is owned by Chesapeake, with several industry groups listed as partners.
Partners NGVAmerica, ANGA and the Pickens Plan do not contribute financially to the operation of the site, representatives said.
Chesapeake has been at the center of many natural gas vehicle initiatives in the past several years as it converted a large part of its own fleet to run on the alternative fuel.
“Chesapeake has consistently been a leading advocate for the benefits of using CNG cars and trucks,” said Alex Weintz, spokesman for Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. “CNG vehicles are helping reduce American dependence on foreign oil, while also reducing fuel emissions and fuel costs.
“The governor is grateful for Chesapeake’s endeavors to promote natural gas vehicles and helping to make Americans aware they have a viable alternative fuel for their cars and trucks.”
Stillwater-based fuel retailer OnCue Express has worked with Chesapeake to open CNG fueling stations across Oklahoma.
CEO Jim Griffith said he expects CNG sales to continue to increase as more drivers discover its benefits.
“Anytime my customers can save over $2 a gallon, it is a good thing,” Griffith said. “My hats off to Chesapeake for all they have done to make CNG what I consider the fuel of the future.”
Oklahoma oilman Boone Pickens, a vocal natural gas advocate, said Chesapeake has been an important part of the push to wean the U.S. off foreign oil.
“The country is moving toward greater energy security, and away from our crippling dependence on OPEC oil. That has been a threat to our economic and national security for decades. We are addressing that problem,” Pickens said. “Chesapeake has been a part of that on the natural gas exploration and production side, and on the efforts to expand the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel to replace OPEC oil through public advocacy and important business initiatives.
“This is all happening, and there will be other businesses that become aggressive in this effort.”