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By Tie Shank 

Compressed Natural Gas – An Abundant American Resource


Flaring wastes all the CNG provided by the existing oil wells in the Bakken.

Compressed natural gas, also known as CNG, powers more than 12 million vehicles on the road today. According to GE, only about 250,000 of these vehicles are being used in the United States. Since 2000, the U.S. has shown a steady increase of approximately 3.7% per year, while the global rate climbs at over 30% per year. However, as gasoline prices continue to rise, American interest in CNG is also rising.

Production of CNG

Most natural gas comes from three types of wells: oil wells like the ones in the Bakken, natural gas-and-condensate wells and coal bed methane wells. Natural gas extracted from wells must go through a clean up process before going in to vehicles.

Per the US Dept of Energy, “Natural gas is primarily extracted from oil and gas wells. Gas trapped in subsurface porous rock reservoirs is extracted via drilling. Gas streams produced from oil and gas reservoirs contain natural gas, liquids, and other materials. Also, advances in hydraulic fracturing technologies enabled access to large volumes of natural gas from shale formations.”

Converting and/or purchasing a vehicle - CNG option

Due to the rising cost of gasoline and diesel, many people are converting their vehicles to run on both, natural gas (CNG) and gasoline. This is also referred to as “dual-fuel” vehicles. Qualified retrofitters (QSRs) can convert many vehicles for CNG operation. However, before converting your vehicle it’s important to obtain a list of local fueling stations offering CNG. As the demand for CNG becomes greater, more fueling stations are beginning to offer the choice.

Laws and incentives for converting vehicles to operate using an alternative fuel vary by state. Some states offer income tax credits to individuals, while others offer tax credits to businesses.

Also, when purchasing a new vehicle, you may want to inquire about the CNG option as many new vehicles are now offering it. Honda Civic, Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana and the 2014 Ford F150 are just a few of many who offer the CNG option.


According to the EPA, CNG has a narrow flammability range, making it a safe fuel.

CNG is nontoxic and it poses no threat to water or soil.

CNG emits 90% fewer emissions than gasoline.

It is a cleaner burning fuel than gasoline due to its low carbon content.

A CNG-powered vehicle gets about the same fuel economy as a gasoline powered vehicle.

CNG costs approximately 40 - 50% less than diesel or gasoline with a current national average of just over $2.00 per gallon, where the current national average price of regular unleaded is $3.57 per gallon and diesel is $3.94 per gallon. (national average price on 09-08-2013).

Average CNG price per gallon in surrounding states:

North Dakota $1.95

Wyoming $1.72

Montana $1.95

Idaho $1.49

Flaring – Wasting this valuable resource

Many Bakken operators are reducing their percentage of flaring, but flaring is still a concern. Can this wasted valuable resource be saved and utilized?

A Bismarck based company is currently testing a liquid fuel, derived from flared gas, in stationary generation. However, they are under a No Disclosure Agreement until the testing process is completed. We’ll continue to follow this story and update you as we receive updates.


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