EASTON, Maine — Another company is beginning to offer compressed natural gas to commercial and industrial customers in northern Maine.
Irving Oil last Friday delivered its first truckload of compressed natural gas, or CNG, to McCain Foods’ processing facility in Easton.
Delivering compressed natural gas by truck is “at the leading-edge of natural gas technology,” Paul Browning, Irving Oil’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
Irving Oil, which has sold other forms of natural gas for roughly 13 years, began working on a plan to provide CNG by truck roughly 18 months ago, Darren Gillis, general manager at Irving Energy, told the Bangor Daily News on Thursday.
The company in April 2012 completed construction of a compressor station in Lincoln, New Brunswick, which takes natural gas off the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, compresses it, then trucks it to customers. The gas is coming from the Sable Offshore Energy Project, which produces natural gas off the coast of Nova Scotia.
It’s a two-hour drive from Lincoln, New Brunswick, to Easton, Maine, which is at the far end of the geographic reach of the compressor station, Gillis said. Beyond that, the trucking costs start eating into any savings produced from switching from oil to natural gas, he said.
Irving Oil is not the only company delivering CNG by truck to Maine customers.
Xpress Natural Gas has a compressor station in Baileyville, Maine. In January it partnered with Dead River Co. to truck CNG from Baileyville to large customers.
The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle, one of Xpress’ customers, on Monday became the first facility in the state to transition to be 100 percent run on CNG, according to hospital officials. Sylvia Getman, the hospital’s president and CEO, said the savings is projected to be between $400,000 and $500,000 per year.
Xpress Natural Gas is also trucking CNG to Great Northern Paper’s East Millinocket mill and Naturally Potatoes in Mars Hill.
For now, truck-delivered CNG will only be an option for large, industrial customers without access to a natural gas pipeline, Gillis said. But that could change.
“I think over time as the technology changes and the cost of infrastructure goes down — and I think it will — we will be able to offer the option to smaller customers,” he said.