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Group pushing for liquified natural gas to be sold as diesel gallon equivalent

Liquid natural gas being pumped into an LNG tank.

Liquid natural gas being pumped into an LNG tank.

Would it make more sense for liquified natural gas to be sold as a gasoline or diesel “gallon equivalent” rather than by units of mass, as it is now?

A committee in the National Conference on Weights and Measures says it should, and its recommendation will be put to a vote in July in Detroit at the NCWM annual meeting.

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In a press release issued last week, NCWM said buyers of fuel “are accustomed to buying motor fuel in gallons.” LNG, however, is dispensed by its weight, rather than its volume, like diesel’s per-gallon units.

By selling LNG as diesel (or gasoline) gallon equivalent, the industry will promote consumer awareness and “interest comparing alternative fuels with conventional fuels,” NCWM says.

“These standards are of extreme importance to provide national uniformity,” says Mahesh Albuquerque, chair of NCWM’s Steering Committee and director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. “A uniform method of sale allows consumers compare cost and quantity and allows equipment manufacturers to design systems to meet just one set of requirements.”

Moreover, a standard unit is necessary for states to implement taxation plans for LNG and fairly compares BTU content relative to taxation, NCWM says.

Dissenters of the gallon-equivalent method, says NCWM, say the terminology would create a new mass standard and would imply a cost or quality comparison between conventional fuels and natural gas, which are comparisons that aren’t really possible, the group says.

NCWM, however, says there’s a precedent already for gallon-equivalent measuring, however: Compressed natural gas. A similar debate was had roughly two decades ago over whether CNG should be sold as a gallon-equivalent or by weight, and the standard was set to sell CNG on a gallon-equivalent basis.

NCWM will hear comment July 14 and 15 at its annual meeting, and the proposals will go to a vote July 16 and 17, the group says.

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James Jaillet is the News Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at jjaillet@randallreilly.com.