Improving air quality, increasing energy production, and enhancing security are all widely shared goals for our region and for the nation -- and the natural gas industry is making positive progress toward realizing them.
Across Appalachia, including a large portion of West Virginia, supplies of clean-burning natural gas and natural gas liquids are being safely and responsibly produced from the Marcellus Shale. In addition to providing more affordable energy for consumers, these abundant American natural gas resources create thousands of jobs.
Our region is realizing significant economic and environmental benefits every day. However, we must continue to identify innovative ways to further leverage this historic opportunity. Right here in West Virginia, positive progress toward making this important, homegrown fuel source more widely available to consumers is taking hold.
Noble Energy, in collaboration with government and industry partners, is working to lay the foundation for a broad-based compressed natural gas (CNG) infrastructure network that will fuel more of our cars, school buses and fleet vehicles across the region. CNG provides a cleaner, more-affordable, American-made fuel to power our growing transportation needs -- at half the cost of traditional motor fuels.
Realizing CNG's potential for the state, Gov. Tomblin created a Natural Gas Vehicle Task Force focused on creating a roadmap to expand natural gas fueling infrastructure and vehicle use. I was honored to serve on this task force with a diverse group of stakeholders that recognize CNG is clear winner for taxpayers, consumers, businesses and our environment.
The Associated Press reported in March that "Ford Motor Co. sold a record 11,600 natural gas vehicles in its 2012 model year, more than triple the number it sold in 2010," noting that "It's the latest sign that natural gas is making inroads as a transportation fuel, particularly for truck fleets, buses and taxis" with "the consumer market gaining" as well. According to the AP, "cheap and plentiful" U.S. natural gas is also "an increasingly attractive option for truck companies and municipalities."
Likewise, a recent Progressive Policy Institute study, "Natural Gas Vehicles: Driving America to a More Prosperous, Secure, and Sustainable Future," determined that "the economic, environmental, and energy security benefits [of CNG] would be enormous."
Noble Energy recently converted two GMC Sierra trucks in our fleet to CNG, and has plans for to convert more across our Marcellus operating region. In addition to acquiring more CNG vehicles, we are also continuing to evaluate other natural gas infrastructure and fueling investments that will bring opportunity and environmental benefits to our region.
The Appalachian Basin 2013 NGV Expo and Conference is one of several events designed to bring innovators and industry leaders together to turn ideas into action and design a future with abundant, reliable and affordable domestic energy. Noble Energy is proud to be participating in, and sponsoring, this event.
Noble Energy recognizes that it is a privilege to operate in West Virginia. We are committed to taking a leadership position to protect the environment, enhance the region's economy, create employment opportunities, and play a key role in leveraging our abundant natural gas resources to power our transportation sector. We look forward to working together with this community to fully leverage the benefits and opportunities presented by the development of the Marcellus Shale.
Ovitz is Senior Operations Manager for Noble Energy, Inc., nobleenergyinc.com.