EQT Corp. adds to natural gas station in Strip District

Customer demand is rising quickly

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Part of EQT Corp.'s effort to increase demand for the natural gas that it's extracting from the Marcellus Shale appears to be paying off.

The Downtown-based gas driller announced Wednesday it was adding a fueling island to its compressed natural gas (CNG) station in the Strip District. Construction already is under way to add two fuel dispensers to the site's current six.

The company said an increase in customer demand was behind the expansion.

The station had about 200 transactions and sold about 2,000 gallons of CNG in January 2012. By December, that had increased to more than 1,000 monthly transactions and 15,000 gallons sold.

The site opened in July 2011 to service passenger cars and company fleet vehicles that run on natural gas. Companies and advocates of shale gas extraction have viewed the CNG market as a way to increase demand for a product that saw supplies skyrocket when hydraulic fracturing technology started unlocking reserves like Appalachia's Marcellus Shale.

Several major companies and organizations with large vehicle fleets and high gasoline costs have adopted the fuel source.

CNG has fewer emissions that traditional gasoline and is cheaper -- the CNG at the Strip District station costs $1.89 per equivalent gallon of regular gasoline. Online fuel tracking site GasBuddy reports the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Pittsburgh is $3.77.

EQT said four customers make up nearly half of its business at the Strip District site: the City of Pittsburgh, UPMC, Paragon Foods and Veterans' Taxi. The EQT site is the only CNG station within Pittsburgh city limits, according to AltFuelPrices.com. Other nearby sites include a Giant Eagle distribution center in Crafton and a Clean N Green station in Washington.

More are expected to be on their way. The state's Act 13 shale legislation passed last year included more than $20 million for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to help pay for the purchasing and conversion of CNG-powered cars.

EQT is helping the Butler Transit Authority build a CNG service station outside Lyndora that is expected to open in early 2014.

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Erich Schwartzel: eschwartzel@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1455.


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