TravelCenters of America along with Shell and its affiliates have agreed to sell liquefied natural gas (LNG) to heavy-duty road transport customers in the U.S.
Once a final decision is made the companies will embark on construction of more than 200 LNG fuel lanes at 100 TA sites throughout the interstate highway system. The new lanes are expected to be functional in 2013.
“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,” said Elen Phillips, Vice President, Shell Fuels Sales & Marketing North America. “This potential alliance with TA would enable Shell to deliver LNG fuel to customers who want a competitively priced fuel option to help them meet increasingly stringent air quality emission standards.”
The benefits of natural gas are abundant like its supply. The costs are low and it has reduced emissions.
“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. 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,” Phillips said.
Currently, there are approximately 1,500 refueling stations overall in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, there are only five stations within the western Pennsylvania area. Two of them are in Pittsburgh; one is in Washington, Pa; one is in Coolspring, Pa; and one is in Punxsutawney, Pa.
LNG stations are structurally similar to gasoline and diesel stations, according to the Department of Energy website, because they both deliver a liquid fuel. LNG dispensers deliver fuel to vehicles at pressures of 75 to 120 PSI. Because LNG is stored and dispensed as a super-cooled, liquefied gas, protective clothing and gloves are required when fueling a vehicle.
Costs of installing gas infrastructure varies, according to the website, based on size, capacity, and the type of natural gas (LNG, CNG, or both) dispensed. It varies in the way it is dispensed (fast-fill or time-fill). In a 2010 report published by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the Department of Energy, costs range from $10,000 to $2 million for a CNC fueling station. An LNG fueling site, according the the Energy Information Administration, can range from $1 million to $4 million.
Last year, Shell announced it would sell LNG to its heavy-duty fleet customers at select Flying J truck stops in Alberta, Canada beginning in 2012.
The first LNG retail plaza in Calgary is expected to open this year.