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Shell Moves Closer to U.S. Truck Stop LNG

June 7, 2012 in LNG by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

MoU with TravelCenters of America for Fueling at 100 Sites

Shell Oil and TravelCenters of America are publicizing a memorandum of understanding for TA to provide liquefied natural gas to heavy-duty road transport customers in the U.S. through its existing network of full-service fueling centers.

LNG too someday? TravelCenters of America and Shell Oil are looking to fuel trucks with natural gas through TA's existing nationwide network of full-service fueling centers.

“Pending final agreements, the proposed plans include constructing more than 200 LNG fuel lanes at about 100 TA sites and Petro Stopping Centers throughout the U.S. interstate highway system,” says Shell’s June 7 release. “If a final agreement is reached, the first of the LNG fuel lanes are expected to become operational in 2013.”

Shell stresses the fact that it is stepping up it presence in LNG worldwide. A report June 6 indicated that in 2012, for the first time ever, Shell will produce more LNG than oil.

According to TA, the truck stop LNG MoU “contemplates that Shell will construct and TA will operate at least 200 natural gas fueling lanes on at least 100 TA locations. Additional TA locations may be added depending upon customer demand.

“The locations will be jointly selected by TA and Shell with the intention of creating the infrastructure required to allow natural gas powered trucks to travel across the United States.”

TA has a national network of 238 truck stop facilities, and numerous service centers, badged as TravelCenters of America, TA, and Petro Stopping Centers.

TA Says It’s Best positioned, Plans LNG Truck Service Too

As such, the TA organization is the one best positioned to bring LNG to the over-the-road sector, says CEO Tom O’Brien.

TA truck stops average 24 acres, he says. “Not only do we have the room, but we’re focused on Interstates almost exclusively,” O’Brien says.

TA says it expects to train and equip enough of its 3,000 repair technicians, 1,000 truck service bays and 400 emergency roadside repair vehicles to service natural gas truck engines. “We have the biggest collection of heavy truck repair facilities on-road,” O’Brien told F&F. “That’s the only way it will work.”

“Using natural gas for transport gives truck fleet operators a new strong advantage because it’s abundant and affordable and a viable alternative to diesel,” Elen Phillips, Shell North America fuels sales and marketing VP, says in her firm’s announcement. “This potential alliance with TA would enable Shell to deliver LNG fuel to customers.”

“Shell sees 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,” Phillips said. “Where it makes sense and where there is customer demand, we will innovate to deliver LNG as an additional fuel offer to our customers across America.”

Shell LNG equipment on Sakhalin Island, Russia

The deal with TA “represents the next phase for Shell in its plan to provide trucking fleet customers in North America with a robust fueling infrastructure,” Shell said, noting that it announced last year that it would sell LNG to its heavy-duty fleet customers at select Flying J truck stops in Alberta, Canada. “The first LNG retail plaza in Calgary is expected to open this year,” Shell said in the TA announcement.

Shell Has Big Plans for LNG

“Shell is moving forward in its strategy to develop a global downstream LNG fuel sales business for commercial customers in the truck sector but also other growth areas notably marine, mining and rail,” the firm said. Shell says it is a leader in upstream LNG, “supplying natural gas to customers in more countries than any other energy company… With our partners, we supply more than 30% of the world’s LNG.

“In North America, we are expanding our large-scale LNG expertise, our global fuels technology leadership and safety record to the small-scale, transport sectors with fuel storage, handling and transport.”

For the TA truck stops, it’s too early to name equipment suppliers, O’Brien says. Likewise specific locations. “Whether is will be regional or corridor based will be shaped according to customer demand,” he says. Likewise the addition of compressed natural gas. “It’s LNG to start. We’ll address CNG sometime down the road.”

Mike Lombardi is executive VP for fleet sales and fuel supply with TravelCenters of America.

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