Chesapeake Energy Corp. used to bill itself as “America’s Champion of Natural Gas,” but it has rededicated itself to its core business as an oil and natural gas producer.
CEO Doug Lawler said Chesapeake still believes in initiatives that boost natural gas use, but the company cannot be alone at the forefront of those efforts like it used to be.
Lawler and Chesapeake Chairman Archie Dunham were asked at this month’s annual shareholders’ meeting about advocacy programs launched by former CEO Aubrey McClendon, including an ambitious plan to invest $1 billion in developing alternative fuel technology.
Dunham said Chesapeake fueled such ventures alone in the past, but now it is time for the industry as a whole to pull together.
Groups like America’s Natural Gas Alliance are ready to do just that, CEO Marty Durbin said Thursday.
Durbin said the alliance, which represents North America’s leading independent natural gas producers, is focused on promoting demand and use of natural gas.
Spreading the word
ANGA’s efforts are organized around market development in four areas: power generation, industrial and manufacturing, transportation and liquefied natural gas exports.
Durbin said a large part of ANGA’s focus is getting people to realize natural gas is no longer a scarce commodity.
“We can have our gas and export it too,” he said.
Durbin credited companies like Chesapeake, which has been the country’s No. 2 natural gas producer, for unlocking vast reserves of natural gas. He also praised the Oklahoma City-based company for its advocacy efforts.
NGVAmerica, which is dedicated to growing the market for natural gas-powered vehicles, said Chesapeake and other companies have done wonders in expanding the use of CNG as a transportation fuel.
“We’re approaching the tipping point and market development has been spread out among individual companies that are not only exploring and drilling but also converting vehicles and playing various roles by providing solutions in developing fueling infrastructure (and everything else in between),” wrote Tom Sheehan, the group’s manager of market development, in an email to The Oklahoman.
Sheehan said CNG technology has matured past the point of early adoption, allowing economics to drive a surge in demand.
Norman Herrera, CEO of Oklahoma City’s Sparq Natural Gas LLC, said the natural gas vehicle market is growing organically as infrastructure grows.
He said the number of fueling stations has increased 79 percent since 2009. More than half of those new stations are open to the public.
Herrera said drivers also have a growing number of options, as more companies get involved in offering conversions or manufactured vehicles.