Energy giant Shell Oil and truck stop chain TravelCenters of America agreed to build and operate a nationwide natural gas fueling stations for heavy-duty trucks.
The companies said Wednesday they would build at least 200 natural gas fueling lanes at 100 TA or Petro truck stops at exits along the Interstate Highway System. The locations will be selected to create “the infrastructure required to allow natural gas powered trucks to travel across the United States,” the companies said.
The Shell-TA plan is an important step in the creation of a national compressed or liquid natural gas distribution network for over-the-road trucking operators. The lack of a nationwide refueling infrastructure is a major hindrance to carriers considering whether to move toward CNG or LNG as an alternative fuel.
Natural gas-powered vehicles are more expensive than diesel trucks, but CNG and LNG are much cheaper than diesel, with CNG prices running around $2 a gallon. Most companies using natural gas are metropolitan or vocational fleets that can tap a fueling station on municipal or company property, such as buses or waste haulers.
The Shell-TA agreement, still in negotiation, brings more competition to efforts to build and manage a nationwide network that could fuel long-haul trucks. Chesapeake Energy and Clean Energy are building a network of 150 natural gas stations along heavily traveled trucking corridors, many at Pilot-Flying J truck stops.