Two groups of geologists from Southwestern Energy set out on a road trip in cars using compressed natural gas from Conway and Houston, Texas on April 15-22.

The idea was to calculate fuel savings, comparing CNG to gasoline.

The results were about as expected.

SWN paid an average price of $1.65 per gas gallon equivalent for CNG on its road trip to Long Beach, Calif.

To calculate fuel savings, SWN employees used the amount it would have paid in each market for gasoline and the price it paid for CNG. Based on findings, the group calculated that it would cost $648.27 to travel the 2,782 miles on gasoline as opposed to $298.58 on CNG. A cost savings of almost $300.

Findings are based on travel from Houston to Long Beach.

Based on the company’s calculations, traveling entirely on CNG would have resulted in avoiding 28 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions normally released through the use of traditional gasoline vehicles.

However, because they were able to travel 94 percent of the trip on CNG, the true CO2 emissions reduction was 26 percent.

"Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate carbon dioxide as an air emission, studies show it is the transportation sector’s primary contribution to climate change," said Donny McCallum, supervisor, midstream planning, Southwestern Energy. "We also know that carbon dioxide emissions are proportionate to the type of fuel burned in a vehicle. So, we’ve utilized a tool provided by the EPA to estimate the amount of emissions we avoided producing on this trip by using CNG instead of gasoline."

"I am extremely proud that we were doing something good for our country and good for our environment by using CNG," said Mary Faucett, communications advisor, Southwestern Energy.

"It felt great knowing we were running on a cleaner-burning fuel, especially because we drove through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the U.S."

"One of the highlights of the trip was meeting other drivers who had been driving CNG vehicles for several years," said Rich Whittington, geologist, Southwestern Energy. "These early adopters were passionate and committed to CNG. They demonstrated the long term viability of CNG vehicles and praised the economic benefits."

There are currently more than 110,000 CNG-powered bi-fuel vehicles on U.S. roadways. A growing infrastructure is helping support existing users.

SWN added more than 100 CNG vehicles to its fleet in 2011 and has plans to convert an additional 66 this year. SWN invested in its own CNG fueling station in Damascus, Ark., in 2011, and has provided financial support to two city-owned stations in the state. The current price of CNG at its station is under $1.50 per gas gallon equivalency.

The company gave 21 employees new CNG vehicles and home-refueling appliances in February through a company-wide initiative to put more CNG vehicles on the road. SWN recently promoted CNG use through an employee incentive program as well.