Wyoming ranks third among US states for natural gas production, providing about nine percent of the nation’s total domestic volume. Over the last few years, there has been significant momentum with both manufacturers and end users to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a supplement to diesel fuel for powering North America’s high-horsepower (HHP) vehicles and equipment. To date, the State of Wyoming has played an important role in the development of LNG as a fuel for HHP applications that include heavy-duty vehicles, equipment, and locomotives. Today, interest across America is strong, and the potentials are very large. However, the market for LNG as a mainstream fuel for HHP applications remains young and thus far mostly limited to a pilot-demonstration scale.
This study finds that Wyoming—with its history, strong state leadership, status as a world-class energy producer, and cutting-edge educational system—is well positioned to lead the nation in the development of a robust, sustainable LNG industry for HHP applications. The payoffs for Wyoming’s economy and citizens are potentially very large. Four specific types of HHP vehicles and equipment—mine haul trucks, locomotives, drill rigs, and pressure pumping services—are special workhorses of Wyoming’s huge (10.35 quadrillion BTU per year) energy economy. Major progress has recently been made towards the sustainable commercialization of LNG enabling technologies for these HHP applications. The net result is that an extraordinary opportunity now exists for Wyoming to become a leading producer of “home grown” LNG, which can then be consumed by its own prolific HHP fleets while also being exported to nearby states that have similar needs. Potentially, there will be significant regional demand for Wyoming LNG for use in HHP applications, such as locomotives, mining operations, and oil & gas plays in neighboring states.
Barriers and challenges exist, however, along the road for Wyoming to become a major producer and consumer of LNG, and to realize the associated benefits. Governor Matt Mead has been at the forefront of the state’s efforts to identify, address and overcome these barriers and challenges, as evidenced by his “Leading the Charge” energy plan for Wyoming (May 2013). One important theme of the Governor’s energy plan is to enhance and expand the value of the state’s vast natural gas resources. A specific objective is to “develop the use of LNG in HHP applications such as mine haul trucks, railroads, oil and gas drilling operations, long-haul trucking operations, and other heavy-duty applications.”