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  1. Categories: Business

    Small Companies Reap Big Rewards with Natural Gas

    When we talk about the benefits of natural gas for commerce and industry, what usually comes to mind are large-scale operations with national footprints that need natural gas to save big on fuel costs. But there’s another end to that scale where the savings are proving just as worthwhile.

    Blenko Glass is a Virginia-based hand-blown glass company that has been around for over 100 years. They create works of art that range from small decorative and functional pieces to colossal projects. In order for artists to create all of these pieces, they require an enormous amount of energy at high temperatures, sometimes as high as 2,500°F (approximately 1,371°C).

    With their energy needs high and costs always top of mind, Blenko Glass’ switch to natural gas has helped the company tremendously. In the past year and a half alone, Blenko has saved $200,000USD on energy costs. “Natural gas allows us to heat the furnaces in the most efficient way,” says Katie Trippe, vice president of Blenko Glass. “Electric heating is too inefficient for our necessary temperatures.” The savings have enabled the company to invest their savings in new equipment, begin an upgrade to their entire facility, and also keep many of their employees working during economically challenging times.

    This is just another example of how versatile natural gas can be. Whether you’re a small business, large business, or residential user, making the switch to natural gas is an economic opportunity we should all take a closer look at.

    To read more, visit here.

    Have thoughts to share? Let us know in the comments below.

  2. Categories: Business

    A Weighty Matter

    As transportation and logistics companies turn towards a clean, affordable and reliable fuel option – natural gas – legislation will need to keep in lockstep. That’s why MPP Bob Bailey of Sarnia-Lambton has introduced Bill 97: the Natural Gas Superhighway Act.

    The legislation would not only create higher weight limits for medium and heavy-duty vehicles using liquefied natural gas (LNG) because of their heavier specialized engines, it would also include a tax credit for those purchasing such vehicles.

    Natural gas’ benefits to the trucking industry in Ontario would be manifold – a 20 to 30 per cent savings in fuel costs, directly benefitting shipping and filtering down to lower costs for manufacturers and consumers. It would ease our reliance on imported foreign oil. And it would produce a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel.

    The long-term trend of lower natural gas prices suggests that natural gas is making a lot of sense to transportation companies, including shipping and the rails. That’s why Shell’s Corunna refinery in Sarnia is going forward with a small LNG unit, to provide fuel for marine, rail and truck customers. In fact, the Interlake Steamship Company has already signed on.

    Often a simple, legislated weight-requirement can have a big impact. If Bill 97 were to pass (similar legislation has already passed in Quebec and British Columbia) it would create an environment more conducive to natural gas use.

    Says Bailey: “Right now (truckers using natural gas) have to fill up in Quebec and try to get across Ontario and get into Michigan before you can fill up again… you need to build filling stations (here in Ontario).”

    If you were an MPP at Queen’s Park, how would you vote on the issue? Let us know in the comments section provided below.


  3. Categories: Business

    Boom Becomes Boon for Canadian Farmers

    Many industries are benefitting from clean, affordable and reliable natural gas. Some are obvious, like transportation and utilities. Some, like agriculture, are not as plain to see.

    To explain natural gas’ role in boosting the bottom line for farmers, it comes down to a simple matter of chemistry. Natural gas is used to produce ammonia, a key ingredient in nitrogen fertilizer. Because 80 per cent of the cost of making fertilizer is natural gas, it’s closely tethered to its price and supply.

    That’s why new opportunities now abound for fertilizer production as a direct result of lower natural gas prices and increased supply. And again, the consumer may also see some benefit due to lower food production costs.

    Natural gas’ affordability (and future low-price trend) is accounting for a string of new fertilizer plants planned across North America. CF Industries, the world’s second largest producer, announced its plans for a $3.8-billion expansion of its U.S. facilities. The world’s largest fertilizer company, Norway’s Yara, is planning a $2-billion expansion of its plant in Belle Plaine, Saskatchewan.

    Natural gas prices have also spurred fertilizer production for Canadian companies. Fertilizer giant, Agrium, has announced a $500 million expansion of its Borger, Texas operation – adding 650,000 tons to their existing production. In fact, encouraged by cheaper, future input costs, a few enterprising Canadian farmers are getting into the fertilizer game themselves. The Farmers of North America (FNA) announced a plan to build a farmer-owned fertilizer collective in Western Canada. This will allow them to invest in their own supply chain and effectively eliminate their reliance on foreign fertilizer from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South Africa (the majority of nitrogen fertilizer is imported).

    The farmers’ new plant will require at least three years to build, and is expected to be the biggest Canadian farmer venture ever undertaken. It’s further proof of natural gas’ ability to create markets and opportunity where none existed before.

    Where else do you think natural gas can make a positive impact on the economy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section provided below.