RecoverIR™ Blog

Discussion of Discovery & Recovery of Lost Energy
President Obama is Missing One Way to Help Cut the Equivalent of a Month’s Worth of Saudi Oil
Published by R. G. Lucas in Energy Loss • 1/10/2011 9:07:48 PM
With natural gas theft rates approaching 20% in Detroit, let’s assume it might be possible to find an average of 5% natural gas theft in each of the top fifteen states ranked by consumption of natural gas in residences. (For more information about theft rates in Detroit read the article on this blog “DTE Energy Surprised when Natural Gas Theft Newly Detected Rates in Detroit Approached 20%”)

If the assumed 5% stolen amount of natural gas in the top natural gas consuming states of Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, New York, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, Georgia, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas were cut off, this would be the equivalent savings of 30,596,677 barrels of oil -which is about 30 days of oil imported from Saudi Arabia (1,031,000 barrels/day according to converted DOE EIA data and the correct number changes each month).

Oil Imported Monthly from Saudi Arabia

We are extremely confident we can achieve a weighted average natural gas theft detection rate above 5% in the aforementioned states. We can identify theft much more effectively and efficiently than any other methods ever deployed before, especially in older neighborhoods with more dogs and more risk to utility employees sneaking around homes, some foreclosed or abandoned, where it is very difficult to figure out where the gas meter was installed or an illegal hookup might be connected.

Cost of 5% Natural Gas Theft in Top 15 Residential User States

For years security guards have been required to “key” their presence at each inspection point during their rounds to verify they actually made their rounds. Local distribution companies (LDC’s) do not have any effective “key” method to verify if or when an inspector actually risked his/her personal safety to enter a fenced-in backyard to look for evidence of an illegal gas hookup. Would you like to be assigned to walk around a home in a scary neighborhood where you might be attacked or killed by a pit bull dog? Or shot when you accidentally stumble on a drug house?

Even with the installation of smart meters, illegal gas hookups and installed underground piping bypasses will remain difficult to detect, if not unlikely to detect. As utilities use smart meters and move to either driving by homes and wirelessly reading meters, or reading meters through the Internet, the follies of thieves will continue to proliferate and illegal theft of natural gas is certain to spread, and our nation will continue to waste more energy.

Do you think a person who is stealing natural gas is going to worry about open windows or doors in winter? Do you think a person stealing natural gas or electricity is going to care about weatherizing their home, especially if they are a renter? Do you think a landlord of a poorly insulted home where natural gas is being stolen really cares about the energy bill for the renter, when the landlord does not pay the energy bill and he only cares about whether the rent is paid or not?

Large aerial, high resolution infrared surveys and analysis are now the “best practice”, state-of-the-art way to identify many types of energy loss and energy theft which were undetectable by any means in the past, and aerial infrared support services can substantially reduce the cost of theft detection for many database-only theft detection techniques.