While developers of coal-to-liquids plants struggle forward with their projects, two developers of coal-to-fuels plants, including one in Wyoming, have decided to use natural gas as a feedstock instead of coal.
Casper-based Nerd Gas ditched a plan to build a $1.7 billion plant near Lake DeSmet that would convert both coal and natural gas to fuels.
The company is now looking for a site for a smaller $700 million to $1 billion plant that would convert only natural gas to 10,000 to 15,000 barrels of gasoline a day.
Nerd Gas was concerned it would be too difficult to get the water rights it needed for a plant that would use coal, and decided a less expensive plant that only converted natural gas would be easier to finance and permit.
“We think the challenges from a coal project are significantly larger than what we want to tackle at this time,” Nerd Gas Senior Vice President Cary Brus said.
The company is eyeing three possible locations in southeast, central and southwest Wyoming, he said.
Elsewhere in the U.S., Baard Energy, a Vancouver, Wash.-based company, is proposing a $3.5 billion plant south of Youngstown, Ohio, this year. The plant would convert natural gas to 2.1 million gallons of jet and diesel fuel each day.
In October, the company announced it had decided to run the plant on natural gas instead of coal in a deal with environmental groups, which had pursued legal action against the company over concerns about mercury and other pollutants.
“The business case for natural gas is compelling,” Baard Energy Chief Executive John Baardson said in an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “And there is a fair amount of interest from financial people. We should be in construction by 2012.”