Updated Winter 2012
Company promotes natural gas as alternative fuel of choice
As Apache enters 2012, its efforts to promote natural gas as an alternative fuel source is making progress on several fronts.
“At Apache, we are convinced that clean-burning natural gas must be a bigger part of the solution to America’s ever-increasing reliance on imported crude oil, while reducing pollution caused by other, more carbon-intensive fuels used in transportation and power generation,” said Steve Farris, Apache chairman and chief executive officer.
Farris said CNG promotes a better environment as natural gas burns cleaner than diesel or gasoline. Natural gas is an abundant, domestic fuel source – with estimates of a 100-year supply in the United States. Filling up a tank with CNG is a fraction of the cost compared with gasoline or diesel.
Another component of Apache’s CNG initiative includes the construction and operation of CNG fueling stations to support the company’s growing fleet conversion. So far, Apache has built and operates seven CNG fueling stations at field locations in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. An additional nine CNG fueling stations are in the permitting or construction phase. Five of the stations, which are being built in Houston, Midland, Tulsa, and Lafayette, will be accessible to the public.
Apache also continues to promote its Employee CNG Vehicle Incentive Program for full-time U.S. employees. The program provides employees 50 percent reimbursement (either from the company or state tax incentives) of the additional cost for a CNG-dedicated or converted vehicle, plus a $5,000 gas card for the purchase of CNG.
At the helm of Apache’s initiative is Frank Chapel, a CNG expert hired as director of natural gas transportation fuels. He served as a consultant for Apache for the past two years and was asked to join full time to lead and expand the CNG efforts across company operations.
“Through all of the activities, I’ve had the privilege to work with many Apache employees,” Chapel said. “It is this extended team that will help ensure the success of our natural gas transportation fuels initiative.”
Chapel, now based in Houston, worked at Amoco and BP for 35 years, including 10 years spent developing CNG transportation infrastructure in the United States and Egypt. He said he is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities his new position will bring.
“Apache is in a leadership role. We’re going to have opportunities to help make positive things happen with CNG,” he said.
Chapel’s vast experience will help. He managed construction of CNG fueling facilities at conventional U.S. Amoco retail service stations in cities that did not meet federal clean air guidelines. He also worked in Egypt as managing director of Amoco’s joint venture Natural Gas Vehicles Co., which constructs and operates CNG fueling stations and vehicle conversion centers.
Tim Tomlinson, manager of natural gas vehicle operations based in Tulsa, and Mark Bruchman, general manager of operations based in Houston, report to Chapel.
Tomlinson led Apache’s foray into CNG with the construction of the company’s first CNG station in Elk City, Okla., in 2008.
“Apache’s ability to move quickly with the first station and follow up with others provided great momentum for the entire CNG industry,” Tomlinson said.
He now supervises maintenance and operation of the company’s existing stations and is handling new construction and general marketing duties.
“We are currently improving our remote automation system to better monitor any CNG station problems,” he added. “This should ensure minimum downtime and ultimately reduce any delays in filling.”
Bruchman has joined the department full-time after managing CNG efforts with his other engineering duties for a couple of years.
“Using the natural gas-dedicated shuttle buses at the ecopark lot at Bush Intercontinental will significantly reduce air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide – an estimated 20 tons over a five-year period – as well as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter to help combat ground-level smog formation,” Bruchman said. “This will provide cleaner and healthier air for the people of Houston while reducing operating costs.
In addition to expanding the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel in the vehicle market in the near term, Chapel’s group also is exploring other exciting areas for natural gas commercial development, including the onshore drilling sector and the marine transportation market.
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