Production of natural gas in the United States reached an all-time high of 25.3 trillion cubic feet in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Now, Shell Oil Company, a major fossil fuel player—with about 25,000 Shell-branded gasoline stations in the United States, alone—has sealed a deal to market liquefied natural gas (LNG) at fueling stations nationwide.
Shell and TravelCenters of America LLC (TA) have finalized an agreement to develop a U.S. network of LNG fueling centers for heavy-duty road transport customers. The plan is to construct at least two LNG fueling lanes and a storage facility at up to 100 existing TA and Petro Stopping Centers along the U.S. interstate highway system.
Construction and opening of the LNG stations will be accomplished in a phased approach. Pending customary approvals, Shell anticipates 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.
“Shell is investing now in the infrastructure that will bring this innovative, cost-competitive and environmentally beneficial fuel to our customers,” said Elen Phillips, vice president of Shell Fuels Sales & 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.”
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.
“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,” Phillips commented.
In related news, in March, Shell announced it would invest in two small-scale LNG production units that form the basis of two new LNG transport corridors in the Great Lakes and Gulf Coast regions that will provide LNG to marine and heavy duty road customers. This brings the total to three planned Shell LNG production units dedicated to transport in North America.
Shell’s acquisition of Gasnor, the Norwegian LNG fuel company, and the launch of the world’s first 100-percent LNG-powered barge on the Rhine are further examples of Shell’s confidence in LNG as a fuel option for commercial customers.
All of these announcements help demonstrate how Shell is moving forward in its strategy to develop a global LNG fuel sales business for commercial customers.
Edited by Alisen Downey