With the economy still in the gutter, unending strife in the Middle East, and OPEC with its 38-year and holding clutch on the U.S. with its dependence on foreign oil, it is a fact that many companies and organizations are spending upwards of billions of dollars on research and development for alternative and more efficient automobile fuels such as biofuels, hydrogen, electric, and natural gas. Chesapeake energy, one of the top natural gas suppliers in the country, wants to continue this trend, and is willing to do so by investing $1 billion over the next ten years to bring more natural gas automobile fuels to the forefront.

The company believes the ends will justify the incredible investment required. They say that switching to more natural gas fueled automobiles will help lower energy costs, stimulate the economy, create jobs, lessen environmental impact, and even heighten national security by helping to end the country’s reliance on foreign oil, particularly from the war-torn Middle East. Executives of the company have already been analyzing this option for several years, and hope that this switch might be the pathway to siphon some $400 billion back into the U.S. rather than to other countries, especially ones that may be against the U.S. and its interests.

Chesapeake will bolster its current onshore production levels of around eight million barrels a day by three or four million barrels by using new techniques such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. They also hope to construct more compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas filling stations to prompt car makers to increase their production of natural gas vehicles, which are currently fairly rare. Chesapeake believes that fuel could be at least $1.50 to $2.00 cheaper than crude oil fuels when these plans are put into place. In addition, they hope to begin converting natural gas to liquid form, allowing it to be blended with gasoline so that it may be used by drivers without natural gas vehicles. This plan could still lessen the impact of oil demands and lower fuel prices.

Natural gas has proven to be the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels, so not only will switching to natural gas vehicles be more economical in the longrun, it will also lessen transportation impact on the environment. In the past years, many car manufacturers have been offering cars and light trucks that can run on compressed natural gas, and some companies have begun offering natural gas conversions for current vehicles. Since it is a clean burning fuel, carbon deposits in a vehicles engine are reduced to nothing, so that the life of the car can be exponentially extended. In addition, natural gas is much less flammable than gasoline, and in the event of an accident, instead of pooling into a highly flammable puddle, natural gas will dissipate harmlessly into the air.

With so few natural gas fueling stations, natural gas operating vehicles has been limited mostly to transit buses, school buses, delivery trucks, service trucks, and port vehicles, which can all be fueled from a central location. Chesapeake Energy is hoping to change that, and with their $1 billion investment, could be one of the companies to help revolutionize auto fueling in the next decade.

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