With higher diesel prices and uncertainty in the market some companies may be leaning toward natural gas. The price of natural gas isn’t much cheaper than diesel, but the long term consequences of using it as an alternative to diesel may outweigh the negative side effects of running fleets on diesel.
One of the biggest advantages of running fleets with compressed natural gas is the longevity of the engine life. An engine that runs of natural gas will run longer and cleaner between oil changes and also increases the life of the the cost it takes to convert fleets verses the amount of money that would be saved. Forecasters do not see the price of diesel going up much anytime soon, but that’s like predicting the weather in the next century. It could go up at any time and without much warning.
Another huge factor facing a swap from diesel to natural gas is the availability of stations that have natural gas verses stations that carry diesel. There are not many gas stations that carry natural gas but a growing number of stations that are carrying diesel. Diesel is becoming more popular in smaller autos and there seems to a surge in new diesel pumps. This may not be a huge factor for larger fleets who would have there own stations but a larger issue for smaller companies and small business owner-operator truckers.
As tighter environmental regulations sweep across the country more companies are eyeing the idea of swapping over to natural gas. Some larger cities across the US have converted their fleet over to natural gas with great results and are inspiring more and more to make the swap.
Some consider natural gas a green fuel but others argue it is not. Is fracking worth the price to pay for natural gas production? When will fracking become an eco-friendly means to gather natural resources? There is no doubt there is great debate about the means for gathering natural gas and the environmental impact it has. Maybe soon there will be greener technology for both natural gas and oil production and this change may persuade investment in natural gas.
It is uncertain how fast companies will decide to convert from diesel to natural gas and will mainly depend on which way prices of each move. With a boom in natural gas production and serge in reserves there could be a drop in prices in the near future and if that drop is large enough you may see some large players start to migrate. Until then, diesel fuel runs the majority of fleets in the United States and is king!