Natural-gas powered vehicles will become a bigger part of the country's transportation mix but face significant infrastructure challenges, according to a report issued by the National Petroleum Council.
The council, which advises U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, said there is great potential for using natural gas for light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles if the natural gas cost differential with oil remains favorable and natural-gas vehicles come down in price. New shale-gas discoveries will help, too.
“The availability of long-term, low-cost domestic sources of natural gas, driven by significant new sources of shale gas, may present an opportunity to increase the role of natural gas as a transportation fuel,” the report said.
The council's report, Advancing Technology for America's Transportation Future, took a broad look at the challenges facing several other transportation fuels, including biofuels, plug-in electric hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells.
Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony has been on the council since 2010 and attended the report's unveiling last week in Washington, D.C. Several Oklahoma companies, including Chesapeake Energy Corp., Devon Energy Corp. and Williams Cos. Inc., also have representatives on the council.
Anthony said the study was analytical and declined to pick winners and losers. More than 300 participants worked on the report from the industry, academia and nonprofit organizations, he said.
“I'm glad they picked the topic of transportation fuels because that brings the attention to an area of critical attention to Oklahoma: natural gas, whether that's in the form of compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas,” Anthony said. “How that's going to develop and who the winners are going to be I think can be determined by the merits, the economics and the features of the fuels.”
The report found continued investment in several types of advanced fuels and vehicles could help consumers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Chu asked the council to study how transportation-related greenhouse gases could be cut in half by 2050, but the council concluded technology and infrastructure advances alone won't be enough.
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