Natural Gas and Trucking

What we are facing is a liquids fuels crisis, since 97% of transportation depends on oil (especially to plant, harvest, and distribute food, long-haul trucking, trains, etc).  To the extent that natural gas can fill in for oil, that will soften the impact of going over the energy cliff a little.

It’s likely we may be able to extend the life of natural gas in America by up to 20-25 years, but not 100 years like all the hype says (see post Shale Oil and Gas will not save us).

This buys us time if enough LNG stations, heavy trucks, and infrastructure are built within the next few years

But — to build a new fleet of trucks requires a lot of oil, costs nearly twice as much as conventional trucks, and by the time you’ve built such a fleet, LNG stations, etc., the natural gas boom will be over.

One of the reasons natural gas is attractive now is that it’s cheap, but that’s not likely to last, and that could slow down the conversion of local fleets to burning compressed NG and long-haul trucks from burning Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).

Some stats from the New York Times Cardwell article:

  • 8 million mid-to-heavy trucks consume 3 million barrels of oil a day, 15% of total consumption or 75% of what we import from OPEC nations.
  • 3 million 18-wheelers — the long distance haulers — consume two-thirds of all diesel fuel
  • 157,000 gasoline stations
  •         53 Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) stations in the USA now, two-thirds of them in California.

Large trucks need to run on LNG, local fleets can get by on compressed natural gas.  Many transit buses, refuse haulers, delivery trucks, and garbage trucks can, and are, running on compressed natural gas.


Diane Cardwell. 22 Apr 2013. Trucking Industry Is Set to Expand Its Use of Natural Gas. New York Times.

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