Shell Oil and TravelCenters of America Announce Plans for Natural Gas Fueling Lanesby Jana Ritter - Published: 4/16/2013
Shell Oil Products U.S. and TravelCenters of America LLC announced Monday that they have entered into a definitive agreement to construct and operate a network of natural gas fueling lanes at TravelCenters locations along the U.S. Interstate Highway System.
The agreement's focus is on liquid natural gas, or LNG and TA expects to monitor customer demand for natural gas fuels and, if appropriate, may adjust its plans to include dispensing of compressed natural gas (CNG). For now, the agreement is that Shell will construct at least two natural gas fueling lanes for large over-the-road trucks and storage capacity at 100 TA and Petro Stopping Center locations. The companies also announced in today's news release that Shell has agreed to supply natural gas fuel to these locations and Shell and TA will separately market natural gas fuel to their respective customers.
“Shell is investing now in the infrastructure that will ring this innovative, cost-competitive and environmentally beneficial fuel to our customers,“ said Ellen Phillips, vice president, Shell Fuels Sales and Marketing Americas. “We are leveraging our strength as an integrated company to produce, liquefy, distribute and commercialize natural gas in transport, and TravelCenters of America is the ideal partner to help us bring this vision to life."
Thomas M. O'Brien, president and CEO of Travel Centers of America added his comment on this recent development. "I am pleased to have finalized an agreement between TA and Shell for natural gas fueling. The agreement for TA represents a prudent approach to an emerging market. Over time, TA believes natural gas will become a significant fuel for the trucking industry. Both TA and Shell have been working diligently on site selection, and I am hopeful that our first locations may be operational within one year's time”, he said.
While OEMs openly talk about natural gas-powered trucks as being part of their future growth strategy, they also acknowledge that a strong network of available LNG and CNG fueling stations is vital. At the Mid-America Trucking Show in March, one OEM reported that currently, the only strong networks were in California and Texas.
“We see great potential for LNG as a fuel option among our range of quality fuels due to the sheer abundance and affordability of domestic natural gas in North America," noted Elen Phillips.
Demand for innovative fuels, like LNG, from commercial customers is growing due to the wide range of benefits for trucking fleet operators. These benefits can include lower fuel costs, the potential to reduce emissions as well as reduce noise levels in certain engines. Phillips explains that construction and opening of the LNG stations will be done in a phased approach. Pending customary approvals, they anticipate the first of these stations will be operational in roughly one year's time with a priority to develop the main trucking corridors to provide the potential for the first-ever coast-to-coast LNG-fueled commercial transport network.