Exxon Doesn’t Think Natural Gas Vehicles Will Work

In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, said that he doesn’t think using compressed natural gas (CNG) in vehicles makes much sense.

While he sees a dramatically increasing demand for CNG in other applications such as centralized power generation, he said that it takes such a huge investment to convert fueling stations and cars (especially long haul trucks) over to CNG, that it just doesn’t pencil out.

Tillerson did remark that CNG makes sense for large fleet use where all the vehicles get refilled at a central, privately-owned station. But for long-haul truckers and daily drivers, the infrastructure in this country would require such a huge overhaul that he just “can’t make the math work on why anybody would do that” with each fueling station needing perhaps $1 million dollars in investment.

While he sees very little reason for growth in the vehicle CNG sector, Exxon has invested billions of dollars in its natural gas operations in expectation of high demand for much cleaner burning natural gas power plants.

What’s funny about Tillerson’s comments on why CNG will never work for vehicles is that the same argument could be applied to hydrogen. Although hydrogen has been heavily touted by the reigning oil industry as a way to make our transportation sector zero emissions, the sheer size of investment and infrastructure improvements needed to pull that off would make a natural gas infrastructure seem like child’s play.

So, is even the oil industry now getting realistic about our transportation future? By wisely acknowledging that batteries are the way of the future and that the demand for their products will come in the form of increased need for cleaner power generation, the oil industry seem to be reaching a new consensus.

Source: Dallas Morning News

Image Credit: ecastro’s Flickr photostream. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.