More good news for the eco-conscious fleet owner: Shell Oil Co. has jumped on-board the green train with big plans to promote natural gas for freight transportation in North America, according to a recent article on AllBusiness.com.
The article details Shell’s plans to start producing liquefied natural gas (LNG), suitable for commercial vehicles at a plant near Calgary, Alberta, Canada by 2013. And until that time, Shell says it will supply its Shell Flying J truck stops in Canada with LNG through third parties until its plant is up and running and it can supply the product itself.
“With an abundance of natural gas and a growing need for low-emission transportation fuels, today signals a very important step for a significant North American resource," said Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Co. in the Americas.
"LNG can provide great advantages for our commercial customers as a future energy solution in transportation. LNG will be a welcome addition to Shell's portfolio of quality transportation fuels."
Shell isn’t stopping with just producing LNG for trucking. They have also announced a partnership with General Electric for natural gas train locomotives and with Warts North America to provide natural gas for large marine engines. According to the article, Shell has also submitted application for mining equipment that runs on natural gas.
And it looks like natural gas, both liquefied and compressed (CNG), is becoming the choice of clean fuel for transportation. A California company, Clean Energy Fuels, just raised $150 million from three investment funds to begin providing those fuels commercially.
As to the problem of fueling stations? David Demers, CEO of Westport Innovations, a producer of engines in a joint venture with Cummins, Inc, said they were working with Shell to address the issues of fuel supply, vehicle maintenance and customer support.
"As a result of this initiative, we believe the use of natural gas as a fuel for transportation will accelerate," said Demers.
Shell seems to agree. The article mentions that in a briefing with editors and reporters this summer, Shell singled out natural gas as one of their key strategies. Their thinking is crude oil and diesel fuels will continue to get more and more expensive, making natural gas more appealing. Giving it both the advantage of being both cheaper and cleaner.
What are your thoughts? Do you think natural gas is the fuel of the future for trucking? Will we be replacing our fleets to run on CNG and LNG to save money? Or is this more hype that won’t gain much traction. Let me know in the comments below.