Why Elon Musk Is Interested In Natural Gas?

Why Elon Musk Is Interested In Natural Gas?

Elon Musk seems willing to try his hand at almost anything these days from automobile mogul to space explorer crypto currency provocateur and neuroscience pioneer. The protean billionaire has his fingers in a frankly ludicrous number of pies so is he now about to add Texas petroleum baron to his resume. According to some underground rumblings musk is feverishly buying up mineral rights in the oil rich state and a couple of offshore oil platforms for good measure. So join us today we doff our 10 gallon hat and ask Why SpaceX is interested in natural gas?

Suspicions around Musk’s subterranean shenanigans were first aroused after a curious legal challenge brought before the railroad commission of Texas last month. The railroad commission which is confusingly named as it hasn’t had anything to do with railways for decades is highly influential in granting drilling rights across the state, anyway a company called Dallas Petroleum Group, LLC has filed a complaint with the commission disputing a trespass order issued against it by so called “Lone Star Mineral Development LLC” on an 806 acres site near SpaceX’s starship development facility on the gulf coast of the state. Lone Star Mineral Development LLC is it turns out a subsidiary of SpaceX spun out from Elon Musk’s rocket company in July 2020. Lone Star’s argument to the commission in response to Dallas Petroleum’s complaint is that it bought the land and oil rights fair and square from Houston based Sanchez energy – a troubled and one time bankrupt outfit later renamed Mesquite Energy Incl. Despite Lone Star’s claim on the land Dallas Petroleum Group’s CEO Matt Williams says he still has viable wells on the site that are his company’s rightful property not to mention equipment with Dallas Petroleum signage on. Lone Star remember that’s Elon Musk’s dog in fight nonetheless issued Dallas Petroleum with a trespass warning and expect them to be gone as soon as possible however it plays out likely in Musk’s favor it’s worth speculating if the creation of lone star suggests the Tesla CEO is about to join the ranks of America’s drill by drill petrochemical prospectors. Well it’s possible certainly starships raptor engines are powered in part by methane which is a gas that commission filings claim is up for grabs on the site. However the methane Lone Star could in theory extract out of the hot Texan soil isn’t anywhere near the purity required to run a rocket engine safely or efficiently. Furthermore the high purity methane which is essential for powering SpaceX rockets is relatively cheap and easy to acquire without going to hassle and risk of drilling and refining it so what is Elon Musk doing it’s been suggested that SpaceX in the guise of Lone Star doesn’t in fact intend to drill for natural gas on this site at all. But a quirk in Texas law dictates that surface landlords are forbidden from banning other companies’ mineral claim on whatever’s underground meaning anybody can basically apply to drill wherever they like. As a consequence of this Lone Star are fighting to secure the mineral rights not because they want them per se but because they want to prevent others from staging disruptive drills here and this matters because the land could very well be a key SpaceX launch facility in the coming years and besides of the three wells on the disputed land one is reportedly a useless dry hole another is said to be uneconomical and the third was already plugged after supposedly outliving its usefulness so why go to the trouble of creating Lone Star as a separate entity. One theory is that Elon Musk created Lone Star as a front so as to obscure his real intentions. 


Oil Rigs

This is a well established business strategy sometimes employed by large supermarket chains when they’re buying land. Imagine if a realtor suspects that say “wall mart” is interested in buying a plot of land that realtor knows they practically have a license to price gouge because the client can so obviously afford it unless wall mart can only create an innocuous sounding shell company that is similarly if Musk the world’s richest man give or take is foolhardy enough to approach a land deal under his own name. He pretty much deserves to get ripped off indeed for some time now. SpaceX has been using the name Dogleg Park LLC as a vehicle to buy up land and property around its starship development facility. It might not be pretty but it is sound business practice but wait a minute didn’t Elon Musk also just purchase two offshore oil rigs indeed public records show that drilling giant Valaris sold two such rigs for a cool $ 3.5 million apiece to Lone Star Lone Star mineral development back in July registered in the name of SpaceX CFO Brett Johnson. 


Eagle eyed SpaceX nerd and photographer Jack Bayer snapped the rigs being fitted with name plates and suitably celestial Phobos and Demos after the moons of mars far more poetic than their old names Ensco 8500 and Ensco 8501 at any rate if further confirmation were needed SpaceX recently posted job listing for electricians asking specifically that candidates are able to install enhancements and major upgrades to offshore vessel electrical systems. It seems excitingly that instead of drilling the platforms will be refitted to service floating spaceports. Elon Musk was happy to clarify on twitter in typically grandstanding tones. SpaceX is building floating super heavy class spaceports for mars moon and hypersonic travel around earth he twitted. 


Rocket Engine
Rocket Engine With Natural Gas as Fuel

So there you have it SpaceX isn’t looking to join the petrochemical industry anytime soon. They just want to interlopers off their land and apparently it’s easier to buy and repurpose a seaworthy platform than it is to build one from scratch. It’s worth pointing out that musk recently offered a staggering 100 million dollars prize to anybody able to develop and scale an effective carbon capture technology which is to say he’d very much like to stop burning petrochemicals hence his electric car company just don’t dwell too much on his massive exploding rocket company.

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