EnCana VP: Natural gas cars could save prices

Natural gas-fueled cars may resuscitate wilting gas prices, said Don McClure, vice president of government and stakeholder relations and legal for EnCana Oil and Gas USA.

Europe and Asia have led the way in natural gas-run vehicle purchases. McClure hopes North America will catch up to the trend soon. One percent of all cars in the world run on natural gas.

In Utah, McClure said it costs 90 cents a gallon to fill a natural gas-fueled car. The cars could save consumers money at the pump while earning companies such as EnCana more cash.

Abundant storage and more efficient drilling practices have made natural gas easier to obtain and therefore less costly to buy.

If new and modified cars help deplete the supply of natural gas, gas prices have a better chance of rebounding, McClure said.

Natural gas has cleaner emissions than gasoline and costs 44 percent less than gasoline or diesel in delivery and tax costs, according to McClure. EnCana even bought five natural gas-compatible Honda Civic GX cars. But limited natural gas-fueling options in the U.S. could block progress toward McClure’s goals.

“There’s already incentives to own natural gas cars. I think what’s missing is what’s the incentive for the (gasoline) station owners?” to add natural gas fueling pumps, he said.

In the meantime, the gas industry faces “near-term challenges,” McClure said.

EnCana’s rig counts have decreased from a peak of 1,606 across the nation to 701 this month. Only 25 of those rigs are active in the Piceance Basin, down from more than 100 rigs active in the basin at peak levels. Still, McClure predicts a bright future for the industry.

“Natural gas has an interesting role going forward and a tremendous opportunity to be part of the new energy economy,” he said.

McClure said recent estimates show the United States has enough natural gas to last at least 90 years to serve the country and “probably more than 100 years of supply at current demand levels.”


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