Shell, TravelCenters to open first highway LNG stations in 2014 - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Shell, TravelCenters to open first highway LNG stations in a year

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Shell and TravelCenters of America announced April 15 plans to develop a nationwide network of liquefied natural gas fueling centers for heavy-duty vehicles.

The plan is to construct at least two liquefied natural gas, or LNG, fueling lanes and a storage facility at up to 100 TA and Petro Stopping Centers along the interstate highway system. The collaboration was announced last year and now has reached the form of a detailed agreement.

Construction of the network, the companies said, will be done in a phased approach, starting with the main trucking corridors.

A map distributed with the media release placed one station near where Interstates 64, 77 and 79 come together at Charleston and one on Interstate 70 near Wheeling, although the companies said sites are subject to change.

They anticipate opening the first stations in early 2014.

The announcement came as the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected in the April 15 release of its Annual Energy Outlook that natural gas will be the fastest-growing fuel in the transportation sector through 2040.

The EIA expects use by heavy duty vehicles — the vehicles that use LNG, as opposed to the compressed natural gas, or CNG, used by lighter-duty vehicles — to dominate, with an average annual growth rate of 14.6 percent through the forecast period. Use of natural gas for transportation rises from 3 percent of U.S. consumption now to 6 percent in 2040 in the forecast.

Commercial customers are seeking alternative fuels such as LNG because of the benefits for trucking fleet operators, Shell and TravelCenters said in their media release. Those benefits can include lower fuel costs and the potential to reduce emissions as well as reduced noise levels in certain engines.

Shell said it has been working to develop the global market for LNG for transport.

The company is developing LNG stations at Flying J truck stops in Alberta, Canada, the first of which opened this year. In March, it announced investment 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 to provide LNG to marine and heavy duty road customers.

Shell expanded its LNG business in Latin America and Spain earlier this year in a deal with Spanish company Repsol SA. And the company said its recent acquisition of Norwegian LNG fuel company Gasnor and the launch of the world's first fully LNG-powered boat on the Rhine River are further examples of its confidence in LNG as a fuel option for commercial customers.