There’s a lot of talk within the natural-gas producing industry about stimulating demand for its product, and high-profile personalities such as T. Boone Pickens have been stumping the concept of 18-wheelers fueled with natural gas.

The potential for the use of liquefied and compressed gas as transportation fuel is undeniably huge: the U.S. is home to some 251 million registered motor vehicles. Less than 120,000 of these are natural gas-powered vehicles (NGVs).

Interest is growing in NGVs, and one excellent use is in medium- and heavy-duty trucks that make multiple stops each day and return to the same location each night. For example, some 180,000 trash trucks presently comb U.S. streets to haul garbage, and about 1,500 factory-built natural gas-powered trash trucks are being added to the nation’s fleet annually. Courier services, bread and snack food bakeries, laundry services and other “local route” businesses are placing orders for factory-built, CNG-powered step vans and, very soon, businesses will be able to factory order natural gas-powered conventional box-trucks.

“If we keep multiplying our market exposure, we could have a significant impact on oil and gas use,” says Stephe Yborra, director of marketing and communications for NGVAmerica, the Washington, D.C.-based natural-gas vehicle trade association.

“Right now, less than one-half of 1% of all U.S. natural gas used goes into vehicles. If we were just to ramp up to a total of 1 million vehicles, which we could easily do, we can hit the tipping point where manufacturers begin to invest in new production lines, and within five to 10 years we could be using 3% of U.S. annual gas supply.”

--Peggy Williams, Senior Exploration Editor, Oil and Gas Investor

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