Southwestern Energy Company (SWN) today opened its first CNG station thanks to one of its subsidiaries. The station, located at 16038 Hwy. 65 South in Damascus, is the first CNG fueling station in central Arkansas that is open to the public. SWN will utilize the station to fuel its current fleet of 40 CNG-powered vehicles. The company is expected to increase that fleet to 100 by the end of the year.
"As gasoline prices continue to remain high, CNG provides consumers with a more affordable option to fuel their vehicles," said Steve Mueller, Southwestern Energy president and CEO. The price per gallon equivalent at the station is currently $1.60. According to Mueller, CNG has benefits that go beyond the price at the pump. "One of the biggest benefits of the compressed natural gas at our station is that it comes directly from the Fayetteville Shale, which means it's domestically produced," he added. "Natural gas is abundant in Arkansas. We are able to capture that resource, use it to fuel our fleet and provide this valued source of energy to other Arkansans."
CNG has environmental benefits as well. Vehicles powered by CNG produce lower levels of emissions and pollutants compared with diesel and gasoline. Due to less carbon residue vehicle life can be expected to increase by 75-percent according to industry studies.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center, Arkansas has four CNG stations. Fort Smith is currently home to the state's only other public-use station. The others are privately held. The City of North Little Rock is expected to open its CNG station in the coming months.
Mueller says that local residents stop by the station frequently to inquire about CNG and how they can convert or purchase a new CNG-powered vehicle. Interest is also coming from some of the company's vendors.
"Several of our vendors in the Fayetteville Shale play are in the process of adding CNG vehicles to their fleets," said Mueller. "That's exciting news for us. We're proud to be part of an industry that is providing consumers a domestically produced alternative fuel source that is not only clean and affordable, it's abundant."
The station currently has three CNG pumps with six dispensers. The unmanned facility is open 24 hours a day.
Left to right: Walter Bryant, vice president of gas operations, CenterPoint Energy, talks with Southwestern Energy President and CEO Steve Mueller. A CenterPoint vehicle was the first to fill up at the CNG station Friday.