Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ:CLNE) moved the equivalent of 43.7 million gallons of natural gas fuel in the first quarter of 2012, up 23% from 35.5 million gallons delivered in the same period a year ago.
Revenue for the quarter was $73.6 million, up from $65.3 million for the first quarter of 2011.
And while Clean Energy’s net loss for the quarter was $31.9 million, more than triple the net loss for the first three months of 2011, the firm said it’s girding for the future, emphasizing its investment in liquefied natural gas for fuel-thirsty over-the-road trucks: “We are diligently working on building out America’s Natural Gas Highway,” says president and CEO Andrew Littlefair.
The Chesapeake Energy-supported ANGH initiative is to see 70 truck stop LNG stations in place this year, mostly at Pilot Flying J travel centers, and 80 more next year.
“We believe we are approaching an inflection point when these elements all come together, so we are working hard to maximize our lead in the industry and preparing ourselves for anticipated increased volume expansion in 2013 and beyond,” Littlefair said.
Those elements include new engines that are fast bringing truck operators into the fold, notably the 11.9-liter ISL12 G from Cummins Westport. At the recent Mid-America Trucking Show in Kentucky, “Every major OEM, including Navistar, Cummins, Freightliner, Kenworth, Peterbilt and Volvo, all had natural gas offerings strongly featured in their exhibits,” Littlefair said as he and Clean Energy colleagues detailed the firm’s goals in a conference call on May 7.
Littlefair singled out Clean Energy’s new “wet lease” agreement with Navistar International and its dealers, whereby the incremental cost of a natural gas truck is offset and operators still get significant savings as compared to diesel (F&F, February 13).
Detailing the progress on the LNG trucks stops, “We’re on pace to have our first corridor, the Texas triangle with stations in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, completed by the end of May,” Littlefair said.
“In the third quarter of this year, we expect to have the Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta corridor, the Chicago to Dallas corridor and the Chicago to Atlanta corridors open. In the fourth quarter, we anticipate opening additional corridors in the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast regions of the country…
“We are on track to have 31 new sites completed by the end of the second quarter and have approximately 70 stations completed by the end of this year…
“By the end of 2012, our network of completed natural gas stations will allow the movement of goods across the country from coast-to-coast and border-to-border.” The deal with Pilot Fying J to site ANGA stations at existing travel centers “will allow truckers to continue to use their normal fueling locations and provide them the same convenience… to which they are accustomed.”
Littlefair said that the Clean Energy LNG station in Las Vegas, which opened in January, fuels 48 UPS trucks and five trucks operated by C.R. England. “We expect these 53 trucks will consume over 1 million gallons per year, which is a powerful start,” he said.
‘Core Markets’ Progress Too
Beyond ANGA there are Clean Energy’s “core markets,” Littlefair said. In the refuse sector, by way of example, “we are currently working with 71 customers in 140 locations and have opened 50 new stations to-date this year.” A station in Las Vegas will soon start fueling more than 100 trash trucks, and a contract has been signed with Waste Pro USA in Florida (F&F, November 14) for a station supporting 158 trucks.
“We also just completed two private stations for the city of Dallas, where we will fuel 26 refuse trucks that will consume over 200,000 gallons per year at each site,” Littlefair said, and a public-private station was opened for Peoria Waste in Illinois.
At the recent Waste Expo show in Las Vegas, “there were 29 natural gas refuse trucks on display which was pretty impressive considering there were 10 on display last year and about three year before that,” Littlefair said.
Littlefair also gave details about airport, transit, and taxi fleets, singling out the new MV-1 paratransit vehicle by VPG (placements in New York City, Long Island, Hartford and Chicago over the past few months) and noting that Clean Energy opened a public access CNG station at the airport in New Orleans in March. “We are currently working in 35 major airports around the country,” Littlefair said.
The Clean Energy chief also talked about the BAF vehicle conversion business, which just opened a 91,000-square-foot headquarters facility in Dallas with the ceremonial delivery of the 20,000th CNG vehicle (F&F, April 23). “In the first quarter, we finished up 600 vans for AT&T,” Littlefair said.
The main theme of the May 7 earnings call, however, was trucks. “Our sales and marketing team,” Littlefair said, “has been relentless,” implementing of getting large shippers to induce their carrier to switch to natural gas. “The shippers are strongly encouraging their for-hire carriers to move away from diesel in favor of natural gas,” Littlefair said, “because they understand the cheaper, cleaner, abundant and domestic benefits that we offer to them.”
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