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LIBERAL, Kan. – Hutchinson Oil Co. will install a compressed natural gas (CNG) pump here by the end of January, with plans to add CNG to more of its Hutch's convenience stores in the future. The Hutch’s store in Liberal is the company’s fourth location to offer CNG and the first located outside of its home state of Oklahoma.
Hutchinson Oil’s Kurtis Hutchinson, director of wholesale operations, said the company has experimented with CNG for 12 years at its corporate offices in Elk City, Okla. Now, it’s time for the alternative fuel -- touted as cleaner burning, locally abundant and cheaper than traditional gasoline -- to take off.
"It took a long time for people to grasp the concept of it, but once you saw Chesapeake [Energy Corp.] and [oil maven T.] Boone Pickens really start pushing it in the transportation sector, it kind of took off," Kurtis Hutchinson told the Leader & Times newspaper.
Utility company Black Hills Energy will supply the CNG to be sold at Hutch’s c-stores. "We’re looking at going into that market and really creating a market for it," Kurtis Hutchinson told the news source. "There’s enough people in the Liberal community that are interested in it that we think we can build up a market."
Hutchinson Oil will also look to add a CNG offering to its Garden City and Dodge City, Kan., locations.
However, Kurtis Hutchinson acknowledged that offering CNG at the pump does come with risk. He likened the situation to a chicken-and-egg scenario. "Which is going to come first?" he told the Leader & Times. "Obviously, the station has to come before the people will put the vehicles on the ground. We’re kind of taking that risk, and put one in Liberal and hopefully see a return from it."
Hutchinson Oil Co. is owned by David and Linda Hutchinson. The company operates 13 Hutch’s stores.