Monday, June 18, 2012

Nance Resources and Gas to Green -- a Billings success story in the Bakken

It's Monday, and time for a trip back to the Bakken -- via Billings.

Most of the attention in the Bakken oil boom is rightly on the oil itself -- how many barrels, how many new wells, how many millions of dollars in direct oil revenue.

Some of the things to watch, however, are the businesses that provide support and those that find other opportunities to meet needs as they develop.

In a great article by Jan Falstad in the Billings Gazette, we learn that Brian Cebull, head of Nance Resources in Billings, noted that a lot of natural gas was being wasted in burn-off from North Dakota oil wells not yet connected by natural gas pipelines. Natural gas is a byproduct of oil drilling, and amazingly enough in the early years of drilling, it was just burned off as it came out of the ground and was treated as a nuisance waste product. Today, of course, energy companies have learned to harness this "waste," and 20% of all electricity generated in the U.S. now comes from power plants fueled by natural gas.

Working with his wife, Amy Cebull, Brian Cebull has formed a new corporation called "Gas to Green" (or G2G) that applies existing technology in order to harvest natural gas at its source at wells in the Bakken, gas that currently is not only going to waste but is also producing pollution by being burned off. Falstad notes that up to a third of North Dakota natural gas is being burned off at present. Cebull's service is to capture that gas for the oil producer, who can then transport and sell the gas. As Falstad describes it,

The company installs what is basically a mini-natural gas plant in a trailer that can be hauled out to an oil well to capture, liquefy and store gas emissions.

This is the sort of beautiful win-win situation of the free market at its best. The oil producer simultaneously disposes of gas waste and gets another product to sell. Cebull's company makes money and creates jobs by providing the service. The public gets cleaner air, and for whatever it is worth, as a bonus carbon emissions are reduced (natural gas is the cleanest burning of fossil fuels.) The energy consumer gets more natural gas, which increases supply and helps keep prices down. The company that manufactures the equipment makes more money and creates jobs (G2G has contracted with them to add two new units a month.)

All in all, it appears to be a success story in the making. As a final note, Falstad is one of the "must-read" writers at the Billings Gazette. Her reporting on local and regional business is superb, and she rarely fails to ferret out and highlight the many fascinating entrepreneurial activities going on in this town. The places where we live inevitably have more interesting things going on than we realize. Falstad lifts the hood and gives us a peek at what makes our local economy hum.

1 comment:

Solar Company NJ said...

A success story indeed! I expect this country to be as green as grass in 10 years, when gas prices are going to be 20 dollars a gallon. Hahaha. Go green and god bless!!

-Sharone Tal