Natural Gas Could Be Economic Future For Oklahoma

Sunday, February 27th 2011, 5:48 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Dozens of Oklahoma business leaders say the economic future of our state is right under our feet, and it's not oil.

Analysts say there's at least a 100 year supply of natural gas waiting to be produced in North America, and the increasing use of the fuel is adding jobs.

"We're going to build about 125 fill stations this year out of this shop," said Tom Sewell.

Tom Sewell is president of Tulsa Gas Technologies. He's built hundreds of compressed natural gas filling stations all over the world.

Business is good, he says, but he'd like to see his home state get in on the action.

"I'm a Tulsan, I'm an Oklahoman, and I'm an American and I'm going to spend my money in those three ways if I can," he said.

Sewell says Oklahoma needs to get on the CNG bandwagon. He says steps have been made in the right direction, starting with tax credits passed by former state speaker Chris Benge.

"We have the ability to secure our economic future here in the United States by using natural gas. I think it's a no brainer," Benge said.

The tax credits include a 50 percent credit for buying a CNG vehicle. Art Price drives a converted '97 Ford Taurus.

"If you've ever used an air compressor you could use one of these in a minute. It's the same kind of connector it's just a little larger," Price said.

There's also 75 percent tax credit for businesses that help build the filling stations. Sewell says it's already beginning to pay off.

"You're going to start looking and you're going to see Tulsa, Tulsa, Tulsa, Claremore all over this machine," Sewell said.

One problem, Sewell says, is there are not enough of CNG stations in Oklahoma. But the state has a goal to have one every 50 miles along the interstate system by 2025.

Both Benge and Sewell say it's going to have to take a change of mindset by both politicians and car buyers to get away from the dependence on oil and switch the CNG.

They also say it's one of the best ways to protect our state's future.

"So we better start doing something to change to secure our future...our domestic energy is what we have to protect," Sewell said.

Sewell is currently building four CNG stations in northeast Oklahoma, including one for the city of Tulsa that will be open to the public later this year.

02/23/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Gas Prices Jump To More Than $3