During its heyday, this fueling station in Armistead, Red River Parish, catered to vehicles converted to natural gas. This station and others like it became casualties of the fueling duel as motorists soon returned to gas and diesel. Photo by Kayne Martin

Kayne Martin | Reporter
Over a decade ago, liquefied (LNG) and compressed (CNG) natural gas vehicles were the next big thing in transportation.
Natural gas vehicles (NGV) seemed like a good replacement for our gasoline/diesel engines. Crude oil prices were once approaching the $150 mark so an alternative source for fueling became very attractive.
Companies started investing in natural gas vehicles and the accompanying infrastructure. Anyone living in North Louisiana during those years witnessed the rise of natural gas vehicles and stations. It seemed like a good idea at the time, especially with the Haynesville shale boom.
The Red River Parish Police Jury jumped on the hype by purchasing a natural gas pickup. In the several years one employee worked there, he has never once run the truck on CNG. Surprisingly, the truck is still in service.
“The truck can swap between gasoline and natural gas, but I’ve never ran it off anything but gasoline. There isn’t anywhere to fuel it up with CNG around here,” he said.
There used to be. Between Coushatta and Armistead, sat an Encana natural gas fueling station.
The station has been closed for years now and a real estate sign covers the once vibrant “Open to the Public” sign. The pumps are gone with trees standing four feet tall under the canopy.
Luckily, the Natchitoches Exxon natural gas fueling station has not met the same fate. The employees there say it is still operational and open for business.
Many companies were investing and giving natural gas a shot. Over a decade ago, the local salt water disposal company formerly known as HWR, purchased dozens of natural gas trucks for the transport of salt water from well sites. Employees say no trucks are left in their fleet.
It seems that this technology has all but disappeared, at least from our area.
Still, research shows the natural gas revolution is still hanging on. GreenCarCongress.com reports UPS is planning to add more than 6,000 natural gas trucks from 2020-22, a $450 million investment. UPS is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and will be utilizing CNG to accomplish that goal.
Several factors have helped decimate the natural gas revolution as we know it. According to Bloomberg, the shale oil boom has been the biggest factor.
Domestic oil production has increased dramatically in recent years. Crude oil prices decreased from that $150 mark, further cementing the use of gasoline and diesel engines as the most viable source for transportation.
Infrastructure, or rather a lack thereof, has been another major factor. According to a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the build costs of a LNG/CNG station can be upwards of $1.8 million.
According to Autoweek.com, even the biggest electric vehicle (EV) charging stations do not come close to that price range. Electric vehicles are definitely gaining momentum over a NGV and an EV owner can refuel at their home, a clear advantage over a NGV.
The future of CNG and LNG vehicles is not as bright as it once was. Time will tell which technology will win out in the end.