GE, Chesapeake Partner To Build Natural-Gas Fueling Infrastructure

03 07, 2012 by Wall Street Journal

General Electric Co. (GE) and natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) said they will work together to develop new infrastructure to accelerate the adoption of natural gas as a transportation fuel.

Their agreement comes as many U.S. automakers are ramping up plans to introduce natural-gas powered pickup trucks to catch a growing wave of interest in the fuel alternative amid booming gasoline prices. Natural gas prices have continued to drop amid growing U.S. production thanks to new drilling techniques, including hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. The cleaner-burning fuel has already been eating into coal's market share for power plants.

But the biggest hurdle to natural gas's wider use in vehicles is refueling. Today there are fewer than 400 public compressed natural gas fueling stations in the U.S. GE and Chesapeake are looking to use GE's oil and gas technologies with Chesapeake's natural-gas knowledge base to lower the ownership and operational cost of natural-gas vehicle fueling stations.

Starting in the fall, GE plans to provide more than 250 modular CNG fueling stations to build a new core infrastructure.

CNG is most commonly used in light- to medium-duty vehicles such as pickups, vans, SUVs, taxicabs, transit buses, refuse and delivery trucks as well as consumer vehicles. The companies are also looking to expand use of liquefied natural gas, which is commonly used for heavy-duty industrial purposes.

GE's shares were up 1% at $18.61, while Chesapeake's were up 0.6% at $23.70 premarket.