ACT News 2017

Hurricane Harvey: CNG Stays the Course

September 2, 2017 in CNG, Hurricane Harvey, Infrastructure, NGVs by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Problems for Sure, But Not Like Liquids’ Problems, Providers Say:
‘CNG May Be the Only Fuel Abundantly Available in Houston Soon’

Compressed natural gas remained available in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. There were shutdowns to be sure, according to an email survey of operators, but almost all downed fueling outlets were up and running by the end of the week. updated August 3

Monday afternoon view from security camera at VNG’s outlet hosted by Circle K on Veterans Memorial Drive north of Houston

And, CNG proved its reliability, as the fuel remained available as gasoline and diesel shortages manifested themselves after the storm passed.

“In the midst of these tragic and devastating events in Texas we have been taking precautionary and proactive efforts to ensure our CNG stations, which are located within existing Shell (Dallas), Valero and Circle K (Houston) gasoline stations, remain open and operational,” says VNG operations VP Bill Mitchell.

CNG Yes, Gasoline Maybe

“We have VNG personnel on the ground and great retail operating partners that keep their lights on and c-stores open to the public even though they don’t have gasoline.”

Among the other responses to F&F,

  • American Fueling Systems: “Our CNG station on 7530 East Orem Drive thankfully was ok during the storm,” reports AFS fuel management consultant Sergio Martinez. “We were open during the storm and continue servicing our customers 24/7.”
  • AmpCNG: “Everything has been up and running during Harvey. Volume is down… All stations are open.”
  • Freedom CNG outlet on High Life Drive just north of the Sam Houston Tollway (Willowbrook) (file photo)

    CNG 4 America: “We were able to keep all our stations up and running the entire time. We had to reset our systems several times because of power outages but we were able to stay open,” reports president and CEO Bob Baldwin.
    “CNG may be the only fuel abundantly available in Houston soon based on the refineries being shut down. Gas prices are going up and there are lines for shortages that I have heard of around the state.”

  • “Clean Energy has five employees in the Houston area, all of whom are safe and accounted for. Two of our nine fueling stations were affected with one scheduled to be back online [Thursday] and the other, which is physically in accessible, awaiting site inspection,” says Clean Energy spokesman Jason Johnson.
    “Our company has deep roots in the State of Texas and our thoughts and prayers certainly go out to all who have been affected by this tragic event.”
    On Friday, “Happy to report all our Houston area stations are up and operational!”
  • Freedom CNG: “We are 100% operational and were the entire time,” reported partner John Athon, whose company has three fueling outlets in Houston out of four total. “We have backup generators and were able to provide fuel despite the hurricane… All were able to provide fuel to our customers throughout Harvey.”
  • Love’s Trillium CNG: “We had our maintenance team positioned around Houston ready to respond as needed,” says spokeswoman Kealey Dorian. “One Trillium station was down for about 4 hours due to a local power outage.
    “Other than that we have been running without issue,” she told F&F, noting that the company has five stations in the Houston area.
  • TruStar Energy: “All public and private stations TruStar built in Texas and Louisiana are on-line except one small private station just south of I-610,” VP Aaron Lay reported Friday. “Should be up and running today,” he said.

“We have also been in touch with emergency support agencies including FEMA and the mayors and governors offices of our station locations in Houston and Dallas to communicate that we are open and to ensure them our full efforts are at work to keep them operational,” says VNG’s Mitchell.

Severe Gasoline Shortages’

“We strongly urge the rest of the industry to do the same.

“This situation is even becoming more critical in the storm’s aftermath where there are severe gasoline shortages that are taking place due to the refinery shutdowns,” Mitchell told F&F yesterday. “This is causing the unavailability of gasoline and making our efforts to remain operational even more critical.

Tuesday afternoon view from security camera at VNG’s outlet hosted by Valero off U.S. 290 northwest of downtown Houston

These shortages highlight the fragility of the liquid transportation fuels market and the business continuity and other benefits bi-fuel NGVs can provide,” Mitchell says. “In this situation the need to rely on NGVs becomes even more critical.

“Therefore we were in direct contact with our fleet customers every several hours to keep them apprised of our station operations so they could be assured of fueling.”

Bob Baldwin of CNG 4 America shared these timely images.

VNG COO Robert Friedman goes further. The situation in Houston, he says, “is a testament to the biofuel NGV. It provides for fuel diversity in terms of price and availability and fuel choice for the driver.

A Natural Gas Vehicles Mandate?

“These events in Texas may become a national issue depending on the refineries timing on coming back on line,” he says.

“It would seem to us that good policy would require a mix of bi-fuel NGVs within the annual production of vehicles on a national basis.”

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Source: Fleets & Fuels survey

Posted in CNG, Hurricane Harvey, Infrastructure, NGVs.

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