Gas For A Buck

Tyler Durden's picture

No, not the kind you actually use in your car. The other kind: that which Europe would kill to be able to get at even a 500% higher price. From a peak at $15.78 in Q4 2005, Natural Gas (front-month futures) has now fallen to a lowly $1 handle for the first time since Q1 2002 on its way perhaps to its all-time low of $1.02 in Q1 1992 as it drops for the sixth quarter in a row.

Chart: Bloomberg

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GeneMarchbanks's picture

Where it will be a 'buy'...

CPL's picture

For the low low cost of retro fitting your car for the cost of a new car you can drive on NG for 1/4 the distance with no take off speed as well.


There's a reason meter maids use NG in their putt putts and cops use high octane gas.


Where it will be a buy is .23 cents

Tsunami Wave's picture

I was listening to Rick Santelli on King World News over the weekend about this.. there is no reason not to use natural gas in cars and just about everything else.  However for one bizarre reason or another, some people or companies mysteriously don't want to use that.

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Yeah!  And when your car crashes the explosion will look super cool!

drink or die's picture

Cause gasoline is non-flammable and doesn't take way longer to dissipate than natural gas?

slewie the pi-rat's picture

it will be a buy when bob_ dabbaadabbadoo says it's a buy!

the mad hatter's picture

This is what the mad hatter drives. Costs 1.90 per GGE to fill up. So yes you can drive your car with it.

rotagen's picture

Been looking into this myself, but the where's the price tag at?  And since I never buy a new car (are you nuts), it's hard to find a used NG burner.


And I need something bigger.


If only global warming had the same effect on real gas prices.

CrazyCooter's picture

Taking a gasoline vehicle and coverting to bi-fuel is the way to go. I looked into this, but it turns out that each make/model/year has to have its own design, which requires EPA approval (in the US). Assuming fuel injection with a design already exists, its 10k or something to convert. Not so cost effective. Now, if you go with an older cauberated vehicle, its a lot cheaper. Or you can buy a new model bi-fuel. Ford used to make bi-fuel trucks (government use IIRC) so you can buy them used, although they are likely high mileage now.

I would never buy a CNG only vehicle, I would rather have a choice.

Anyway, gas prices are NOT staying down. I rant about this here ... (and link to a good post over on ...



Flakmeister's picture

Yes... it is about cash flow (and keeping leases from expiring)....

There is going to be an epic flushout of the overlevered.... I saw a report that the shale NG drillers/producers have a $40 billion annual capital  deficit....

max2205's picture

Everyone remembers when it was a good idea at $1.00 but then it went to $15.  Not that Oil is stable but.....

slewie the pi-rat's picture



they use it here for a the public trans and some of the city&county vehicles

i've heard that it is a fairly ez conversion

i would imagine it is somewhat like propane; you hafta be trained;  it takes fifteen minutes, and then you hafta do it a few times;  then you know how to fill a tank

i know how explosive propane is:  there have been explosions from people opening a vehicle door and the courtesy light goes on

fightClub has a great gas explosion!  refrigerator went on, i!

vast-dom's picture

MR. LH is correct. See below for more.

DCFusor's picture

Unlike gasoline, natgas has to be compressed, which means leak more or less equals explosion.  The low energy density as pointed out above is also an issue, along with the fact that using a gaseous fuel effectively removes cubic inches from diisplacement compared to a liquid.

If someone wanted to learn to reverse-crack natgas into heavier molecules (there'd be hydrogen left over, which has value on its own), you'd have something - see, I just gave away a billion dollar idea.  You saw it here first, and this establishes prior art so no one can patent of win a suit over it.

On the other hand, if I was charging my Volt off the power company, 44 miles range would cost me about $1.20 - so pretty close to gas for a buck.  As it is - I'm charging mine of PV panels I own.

drink or die's picture

Natural gas is liquid until it is put into the cylinders, at which point it becomes a gas.  Gasoline is exactly the same, it is vaporized when mixed with air and put into the cylinders.

Broccoli's picture

No, gasoline is a liquid at room temperature and 1 atmosphere.

Natural gas is a gas at room temperature and 1 atmosphere. It has to be compressed to high pressures for it to be in the liquid phase, or it has to be cooled to cryogenic temperatures.

drink or die's picture

My point is that it is stored as a liquid or a compressed gas in the car until the time of combustion, similar to gasoline. The point that the original psoter was trying to make was inaccurate.

Flakmeister's picture

CNG is sure as hell not stored as a liquid.....

CrashisOptimistic's picture

FYI Flakdood . . .

My calculations suggest 30% of nat gas coming out of the ground is reqd to provide the power to refrigerate to LNG form.  Even though the conversation is about CNG, reality is you can't convey CNG at transportation fueling quantities at 500 psi.  It would not flow fast enough.  So either 4000 psi pipes or LNG carriers are reqd.

You would have to pressurize pipes to 4000 psi to transport to filling stations and the leakage at 4000 psi on literally hundreds of thousands of miles of pipe to each filling station (in such a transportation infrastructure transition) would cost about 15% of total Per Day.

A transition of all transport to nat gas would likely deplete reserves in less than 20 years.

Flakmeister's picture

IIRC, 30% is a bit high...

I can't wait for the price to rise when LNG exports corresponding to ~5% of production start kicking in 2015 or so...

Manthong's picture

LNG is what we export when we freeze NG and put it into big floating refrigerated thermos bottles and ship it to Japan.

CNG is what some smart and/or fortunate people do to NG by compressing it to use for running engines where economical or necessary.

Broccoli's picture

No he is completely accurate. It is you who are inaccurate. It is a completely different hazard than gasoline. Gasoline, unless it is preheated and unable to flash to gas, will not explode. (IE it enters the superheated phase which would take a very rare set of circumstances.) It will simply burn. Moreover, your fuel tank is basically open to the atmosphere. There is no pressure containment.

As soon as you loose pressure containment in a CNG car, you will instantly have an explosive vapor cloud immediately around the car that can be set off by things as simple as your own car engine, cell phone, windshield wiper motors (if they are going it will cause an explosion), powered windows, etc. An explosion is likely.

Though, in countries like Brazil that have a high percentage of CNG cars, explosions are unlikely because your CNG bottle is designed with large safety factors and is unlikeley to be compromised in a crash. That doesn't change the fact that CNG is inherently much more dangerous than gasoline. The hazardous nature of CNG does not bother me suitably controlled, but as an engineer I feel a strange compulsion to correct inaccurate science.

rajonmestra's picture


you're right about that. gasolines do not explode unless confined on a good casing. hence, cars with quality gas tanks should not be bothered by this issue. if you know that you have a good brand then you can relax already. still, you are not excused from the issue of gas price increase. i have just bought discounted oil pans, alternators and other car parts then the gasoline price just rose immediately. seems that the discounter parts i got were useless.

Obaminator's picture

Drink or Die: Your missing the science here. Not to be mean, but your trying to equate gasoline converting to a vapor with natural gas is not accurate.

Gasoline takes up "X" amount of space, say 1cc per cycle, in a piston with say 500 cc's of volume. That gasoline vaporizes due to a lower initial atmospheric pressure in the cylinder during the intake stroke, plus the heat of the engine, as gasoline vaporizes it MIXES with the intake air, becoming an explosive mixture.

Natural Gas, expanding at over 1000:1 in a microsecond displaces the air availbe to be drawn into the cylinder, and without air, natural gas is not explosive because it doesnt have oxygen to ignite. in essence what you get is far less BTU per stroke with NG than Gasoline due to the difference in volume that the NG must occupy versus the gasoline vaporizes (basically discolving) into the air.

Gasoline has far more BTU per "expanded" volume that does NG, and being a liquid disolving into air, versus a gas displacing another gas leads to them not being comparable.

Two completely different physical properties leading to significantly diffeernt chemical reactions of energy output.


DCFusor's picture

Sorry, man, just like with propane (a liquid while in the tank) natgas is a gas when it goes through the conversion carb, or it is in all the conversions I've seen.  Maybe DoChen will chime in as he has some experience with natgas conversions in Peru where he does business.  I do energy related science for a living - I'm not always right, but most of the paycheck depends on it.

The Swedish Chef's picture

At room temerature natural gas is a liquid until it decompresses and vaporizes, something that happens in 0.0001 seconds. Why do you think it´s called natural gas?


For gasoline it takes a lot, A LOT, longer for the same amount of liquid to vaporize.

FeralSerf's picture

Unless you live in a very cold room, natural gas (methane) is never a liquid at normal room temperature of about 20 degrees C.  The critical point of methane is 190.7 degrees Kelvin (about negative 82 degrees C) at  45.8 atmospheres or about 673 psi.

Broccoli's picture

They already do this and it is even being considered in Louisiana. The main hurdle is it costs as much if not more than a full scale refinery and Asia and Europe have really good nat gas markets, so there is no need to convert.

marathonman's picture

Natural gas can be fairly easily converted to methanol using standard industrial technology.  Heat makes CO/H2 which react over catalyst to make CH3OH.  Methanol is a decent liquid fuel althogh it is less energy dense than ethanol so mpg's won't be as good as gasoline.  But it's doable and with methanol to olefins technology, you can make any length molecule you want.  Turn it all into diesel and you've got a great no sulfur energy dense liquid fuel.  It's all doable today with current industrial technology.  The economics just have to work right though.  We're probably getting pretty close.  Check out the book 'The Methanol Economy' for a good discussion on the viable future of energy via methanol:

DCFusor's picture

Greened ya.  Yeah, the energy balance net is the key here.

lizzy36's picture

Fossil Fuel.

Much better for Obama to continue to push Solyndra type entites.

Also do not discount the adminstration WANTING nattie to fall under a $1. This is part of their "re-shoring" of jobs strategy. VERY VERY CHEAP natural gas for manufacturing plants.

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Much better for Obama to continue to push Solyndra type entites.

Over a cliff you mean.  Obama single handedly destoryed the PR of the solar industry by investing tax payer money (which is stupid in the first place because the government should not be investing in the private sector) in its shittiest companies.

Matt's picture

+1. arrows are disabled because you started post with italics (at least that's the current theory).

slewie the pi-rat's picture

...whose assets are now/will soon be owned by the fuking banksters...  b/c we got hosed.  again

then we'll get some EZ solar finacing, i'll bet...

Bobbyrib's picture

Obama couldn't give a shit one way or the other if manufacturing comes back to the US.

Cursive's picture


And I'm still paying 10 to 11 cents per kw for my electricity. Yeah, letting monopolies run whole industries is a great idea.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

The mysterious reason is that the tanks are pressurized to 3600 psi.  1 Atmosphere ambient is 14.7 psi.  The pipes to your house are 500 psi. 

How did you plan to fill your tank?  A nat gas filling station has to have a $10,000 compressor to get the pressure up.

Look, there's no magic.  It's physics.  Nat Gas has 1/1000th the BTUs on a volume basis (like 1 barrel or 1 gallon) of crude.

There is only one nat gas production car in the US of note.  The Honda Civic.  It has essentially no trunk so they could get more volume in their fuel tank, which is at 3500 psi.  

With the pressure, and with that tripled tank size, they still get only 40% of the range of a conventional Civic on a tank of fuel.

It Doesn't Work.  

The examples you see are all bullshit garbage trucks that travel some short distance and then get refilled.

Flakmeister's picture


CNG works for short range commercial fleets.... it will not work for the vast majority of people...

I will also bet dollars to dougnuts that only a small fraction of people that shell out the rquired $5-10,000 for a conversion will ever reap their CAPEX back....

FeralSerf's picture

I doubt Doug's nuts are worth a dollar to anyone but Doug.

Do you really believe that all those Peruvians that use natgas for their cars spent $5 to $10K for the conversion?

Flakmeister's picture

Sue me for missing the h....

It's the price I heard from Santellli (broadcasting from some conversion outfit in OK) The price also presumes one buys a compressor for home fueling and a good quality tank....

I am sure that doing retro-conversions on existing vehicles is more expensive that buying a CNG enabled car from the get go which might explain Peru...

I will stand by my statement that CNG really only makes sense for short range commercial fleets and that for the most part is not suitable for the majority of drivers...

FeralSerf's picture

I'd love to sue you if there was any money in it, which I doubt, but what does that have to do with "h"?

Or did you mean:'s_Donuts ?

Obaminator's picture

Ahhh C'mon now...calling those public-servant garbage truck bullshit is a tad harsh isnt it?    NOT! HAHA

Flakmeister's picture

Let me guess... Do you burn your garbage in a barrel in your front yard?

Id fight Gandhi's picture

The civic has home phill stations that gas it up overnight. Filling stations are quicker. The home stations without a compression aren't that expensive.

The solution is a dual fuel running gasoline too. Screw this hybrid battery stuff.

Flakmeister's picture

So effectively, you will pay extra (degraded mileage) to schlep two heavy fuel tanks around....

earleflorida's picture

'nat gas' coversion kits can switch to gasoline with a push of a bottom [thankyou Rickster!/CNBC] --- the entrepreneurship is growing exponentially, and the future looks bright --- not even the, *capitalist-oligopoly-regulation [hijacked, and sequestered america's innovation and entrepreneurship -- the true meaning of capitalism]*, can slow this train down, period!           Note:  click on 2012 Fuel Economy Guide**

___ Note: Honda GW @ 170 m/tank? 

aerojet's picture

I'm thinking energy density--you can run a car on pure ethanol, but you're going to burn a lot more of it.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

The other problem with ethanol is it can't be transported in pipes like oil since is will pick up water.