(Updates share price in last paragraph.)
Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Encana Corp. opened a compressed- natural-gas station near Calgary for its fleet of heavy trucks, as Canada’s biggest gas producer tries to increase the use of the fuel for transportation.
The station, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Calgary, will eventually be open to the public, the company said in a statement today. Encana has converted almost a tenth of its fleet of 1,400 commercial vehicles to using natural gas instead of gasoline or diesel fuel.
“This is intended to try to offer encouragement in a broader way for the concept of natural gas-powered vehicles,” said Mark Gilman, an analyst at Benchmark Co. LLC in New York who has a “hold” rating on Encana’s shares and doesn’t own them. “Ultimately these are policy issues and natural gas as a transportation fuel is not receiving a lot of support from government.”
Proponents of natural gas as a transportation fuel, including oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens, say it’s a cheaper and cleaner fuel that will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Burning natural gas emits about 25 percent less carbon dioxide emissions compared with gasoline, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The amount of recoverable natural-gas reserves in North America has swelled as a result of new techniques to capture hydrocarbons trapped in underground shale. Gas prices have dropped 72 percent from a record of $13.577 per million British thermal units in 2008.
Encana, based in Calgary, has compressed-natural-gas stations in Colorado, Louisiana and British Columbia. Canada has about 80 stations supplying the fuel to the public, the company said. There are about 1,100 stations in the U.S., according to CNG Now!, an industry-funded advocacy group.
Encana fell 85 cents, or 4 percent, to C$20.21 at 4 p.m. in Toronto Stock Exchange trading, taking its decline this year to 31 percent.
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