Since 2008, when diesel prices spiked above the $5 mark, there has been a renewed call to pursue domestic alternative energy sources like liquefied natural gas – or LNG – to power America’s trucks.
And since that time, the major players in the transportation industry have been testing the waters to see if LNG is a viable alternative to diesel for long-haul trucking operations.
Thomas M. O’Brien, managing director, president and chief executive officer of TravelCenters of America LLC of Westlake, OH, told Land Line on Friday, June 8, that TA is prepared to lead the LNG charge.
On Thursday, June 7, TA and Shell Oil Products US announced they have entered into a memorandum of understanding to potentially build a network of more than 200 LNG fuel lanes at approximately 100 TAs and Petro Stopping Centers in the U.S.
“I think there are a lot of trucking companies that are attracted to the difference in cost between diesel and natural gas that exists today,” O’Brien said. “That difference is making them look pretty hard at whether natural gas-fueled engines make sense.”
As trucking companies make tough economic decisions about whether to stick with diesel, switch their operations to natural gas or use a mix of both fuels, O’Brien said the number one question for long-haul operations deals with the infrastructure question about where will their trucks fuel up when out on the road.
The second question deals with potential repair and maintenance issues they face out on the road if they switch from diesel to LNG-powered vehicles.
O’Brien said the tentative agreement with Shell to development LNG fuel lanes answers both questions “pretty well.”
“If our arrangement with Shell comes together, we are well-positioned to lead here,” he said. “We have 238 operating centers, 1,000 bays and 3,000 technicians.”