Natural Gas: “It’s Here to Stay”

Caterpillar delivered a clear message at the recent High Horsepower Summit in Chicago - where the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a transportation fuel served as the focus. During the keynote address, Billy Ainsworth, Caterpillar vice president and president and CEO of Progress Rail Services and its subsidiaries including Electro-Motive Diesel conveyed to a crowded room of attendees, "We're not sitting idle. We see natural gas as a reality, and it's here to stay."

Sharing the company's commitment to continue to deliver leading natural gas engines across all high horsepower sectors, Ainsworth showcased the broad range of HHP engines currently available or under development at Caterpillar, including dual-fuel, gas-fired engines for petroleum applications, dual-fuel engines for marine vessels, and dual-fuel engines for large mine haul trucks and EMD locomotive engines.

With attendance nearly doubled - from approximately 800 registrants last year to nearly 1,500 this year - it was evident interest has picked up in the sector. A host of end users, fuel and infrastructure providers, vehicle and technology companies and industry analysts gathered at the event to hear from experts at daily panel sessions.

Caterpillar was one of the HHP Summit's title sponsors in 2012 and again in 2013, hosting a premium exhibit space at McCormick Place Convention Center in downtown Chicago, where the company highlighted its broad range of natural gas solutions for the marine, rail, mining and petroleum industries. Each of the Caterpillar business units also hosted presentations throughout the week for attendees.

"What a difference a year makes," said Joel Feucht, director of gas engine strategy in the Energy and Power Systems group, during his presentation. "Last year, the banner for this summit would have read, 'Natural Gas?' This year, on day one, you'd have a different banner that said, 'Natural Gas!' It's going to happen."

While Caterpillar isn't a newcomer to gas engine development, we have been working hard across many of our divisions to invest, innovate and partner with industry leaders, such as Westport Innovations, as well as our customers, to deliver on our current natural gas strategy. At its core, the strategy aims to provide customer value in terms of fuel cost savings, diesel-like performance and industry leading reliability and system integration.

The first collaboration on Caterpillar's new LNG technologies began in December 2011, where Westport and Electro-Motive Diesel - part of Caterpillar's Rail division - announced a consortium agreement to integrate high-pressure direct injection (or HPDI) technology and natural gas fuel system technologies on an EMD locomotive, provided by Canadian National Railways (CN).The natural gas locomotive underwent a demonstration as part of the Sustainable Development Technology Canada project with CN and Gaz Metro.

In June of 2012, Caterpillar announced its plan to deliver HPDI solutions for off-road equipment, including Cat mining trucks and rail high horsepower applications in 2017. Since then, we have had some significant customer wins in this space. This includes the shipment of the Oil and Gas group's first DGB™ kit to a Russian oil and gas company, and within the Marine group, we've announced and delivered two MaK dual-fuel engine products. Caterpillar's Global Petroleum division also has Dynamic Gas Blending™ kits available now for land drilling and pressure pumping applications.

At the Summit, Ainsworth explained why the company has been investing heavily in natural gas, saying, "There's a sense of urgency to deliver a world class solution. Customers want to take advantage of the cost savings as soon as possible."

That's not to say we are discounting the use of other fuel sources. Caterpillar supports a broad range of energy sources, and we're committed to providing globally abundant, reliable, clean and reasonably priced sources - whether traditional or alternative. As far as the ramp up in natural gas for the high horsepower market, we've been listening to our customers and we will continue to do that with an intense focus.

"It's an exciting time to be in the high horsepower market," Ainsworth said. "It's just what we said one year ago - we are "all in" and firmly committed to meeting our customers' needs with natural gas solutions."

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