Natural Gas to Make Up 2.5% of Transport Fuel by 2018, IEA Says

Natural gas will increase its share of road transport fuels to 2.5 percent in 2018 from 1.4 percent in 2010 as consumers look for cheaper, cleaner forms of propulsion, according to the International Energy Agency.

Further displacement of oil as the leading transport fuel is being held back by the need for “substantial” infrastructure, the IEA said in its medium-term oil-market report, published today. Oil will account for 96.4 percent of road-transport fuel in 2018 from 97.8 percent in 2010, the Paris-based IEA said.

Natural-gas fuel infrastructure buildup “could begin to happen in a big way over the forecast period, but regardless may not bear fruit until later,” the IEA said in the report. “While this infrastructure development could eventually pave the way for substantial displacement of oil by natural gas in the transport sector, truly meaningful fuel switching is not expected to occur until after the end of the forecast period.”

The prospect of bountiful, cheap gas extracted from shale rocks has led to renewed interest in using the fuel to power vehicles. In the U.S., natural gas is selling at about one-fourth the cost of crude oil. At $94.83 a barrel, oil costs about $15.81 per million British thermal units compared with $3.97 for U.S. gas, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. energy policy makers should offer incentives to convert trucks to run on natural gas to promote energy independence, billionaire T. Boone Pickens said May 1. Pickens, whose Clean Energy Fuels Corp. has 400 natural gas filling stations, wants the federal government to offer incentives to convert 8 million 18-wheeler long-haul trucks to run on natural gas, raising money for the plan by selling some of the 700 million barrels of oil now in the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve.

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