The Duncan Banner

March 15, 2013

Cheap gas comes with a high price

Megan Bristow
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — With today’s gas prices, fuel for 99 cents is enough to catch anyone’s attention. Since January, O-Tex Pumping, located at 7303 N. U.S. Hwy 81 or the old Gatlin School, has been raising curiousity within the community with signs inviting customers to fill up for just under a dollar per gallon.

The offer is not meant to entice customers into a state of nostalgia remembering the days when gas was regularly 99 cents a gallon or lower but instead make drivers stop and think about the advantages of Compressed Natural Gas.

Since 2009, O-Tex Co-owner Doug Rather said they have been working on procedures, 100 percent compliant with the EPA, that would allow them to convert their vehicles to CNG. Since then, the company has been converting their trucks to use a mixture of CNG and diesel.

The use of natural gas has recently become a national topic of discussion but it has yet to become a wide-spread change especially in this area.

“We are getting into a situation where people are not buying natural gas vehicles because they cannot get fuel. Nobody is putting fuel stations in because there are no natural gas vehicles. I like to say it is the chicken and the egg theory. Which came first? Somebody has got to be first,”  Rather said.

Rather said that all manufacturers now are starting to introduce cars that can run off the alternative fuel while others, including older models, can be converted to use this source.

“It burns cleaner,” he said. “It is American fuel. It is not imported from anywhere. It come right out of the ground in this country and it is cheaper.”

While the cost of converting vehicles to this fuel source does typically cost over $8,000, the savings could pay off within a couple of years.

“The more you drive, the faster you are going to pay that off,” Rather said.

Converting the O-Tex fleet to CNG makes them a leader in the industry but it also helps America be less dependent on other countries while providing stability in the oil industry.

“We are trying to do it for one the fuel costs and number two, we just think it is the right thing to do to help support the independence of America,” Rather said. “If you listen any to T.Boone Pickens and the Pickens Plan, he tals about using or oils to make plastics and stuff like that and using our natural gas for our cars and things. Make that the bridge to the future. There is going to be something better. They will get wind power perfected or solar or something. There is going to be something better. For right now, let’s put that bridge in place with the natural gas and be energy independent, where we do not depend on foreign countries for oil.”

Rather said he hopes this leads other companies within the industry to convert their fleets as well. For O-Tex, he said it is going to provide really good fuel savings.

“We are doing something we think is going to help the industry,” he said. “We want to lead the industry in doing this.”

There are three options for converting to CNG. One runs purely off of CNG while the other two use a mix of CNG and gasoline or diesel, which provides convenience in filling up if drivers are in an area where CNG is not readily available.

While Rather said there are not currently any mechanics in Duncan that can perform the conversion, he said there are shops in Enid, Chickasha and Okarche. The pump is a first for Stephens County; however, there are other pumps located near Lawton and Chickasha.

While Rather expects the price of natural gas to rise sometime in the future, he said he believes the cost of the conversion will go down as the fuel source gets more popular. He said he expects this to offset whatever increase in natural gas prices occurs.

O-Tex Pumping provides primary and secondary cementing and specialty pumping services. The company is dedicated to remaining friendly on the environment.

“We can help out the country, the environment and the city,” he said. “That is what we are about. Being good stewards of the environment is part of our business. If we can do that, we are certainly going to.”