Exporting U.S. energy supplies overseas to support growth in natural gas transportation in places like China and Korea makes no sense and hopefully will not happen, said Richard Kolodziej, president of NGVAmerica, the Washington, DC-based trade organization advocating vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

If U.S. energy policy doesn’t emphasize more use of low-priced domestic natural gas, then exports make sense, but that isn’t, and should not, be the case, said Kolodziej, speaking Tuesday on webinar, “The Domestic Gas Surge and the Future of Clean Transportation,” sponsored by energy research and consulting firm Pike Research.

“How does [exporting LNG] make any sense from a public policy standpoint?” he asked. Using the example of China, he said to export “our cheap natural gas so they can convert their vehicles to run on natural gas and displace petroleum while we still import a significant portion of our petroleum at $100/bbl. That makes no sense.”

He said the export of LNG will only occur if the price of natural gas worldwide stays high, and for what he said are a number of reasons, “that is not going to happen.

“Our prices are going to come up from where they are now to $4 or $5, and I am confident at that level we will have more gas than we can use, but I think worldwide gas prices are going to come down as extracting and shale production become standard around the world. So I don’t think those [U.S.] export plans are really going to take hold.”

Regardless of what ultimately happens with prices, NGVs are going to be a major part of America’s transportation system, said Kolodziej, who responded to questions by saying the choice between electric vehicles (EV) and NGVs depends on the application. Because of battery and range limitations, “electricity has a lot of challenges,” he said, and Pike Research senior analyst David Hurst agreed.

“It is really specific to the application whether EVs are viable, said Hurst, who noted that vehicles that work all day need the longer range of NGVs. “I see the two as more complementary than competing because they each fill different roles,” Hurst said. “For what each does, they do it well.”

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