Shell plans to open LNG truck fueling stations across U.S.

Shell will supply liquefied natural gas to 100 interstate highway fueling stations across the nation beginning in 2013, according to a preliminary plan released today.

Under the tentative terms of the agreement, Shell will construct more than 200 LNG lanes for fueling heavy-duty trucks  at TravelCenters of America stations and Petro Stopping Centers across the country.

Locations for the LNG pumps will be selected with the needs of cross-country commercial trucking customers in mind, according to a statement from TravelCenters, the largest full-service truck stop chain in the United States.

Natural gas proponents have pushed for greater use of the fuel for transportation. Supporters say the fuel is a way to relieve the glut of domestically produced natural gas on the market. The oversupply has driven down the cost of natural gas fuels, compared to crude-based gasoline and diesel.

“Using natural gas for transport gives truck fleet operators a new strong advantage because it’s abundant and affordable and a viable alternative to diesel,” said Elen Phillips, vice president of Shell Fuels Sales & Marketing North America, in a written statement

TravelCenters said it plans to train repair technicians and equip its truck service bays and emergency roadside repair vehicles to respond to the nation’s growing fleet of natural gas-powered trucks.

The plan will “create the infrastructure necessary to offer TA’s trucking company customers an alternative fuel choice,” said TravelCenters of America President and CEO Thomas M. O’Brien, in a written statement. “TA is especially pleased to be helping ensure America’s energy independence.”

The agreement with TravelCenters is Shell’s latest move to expand LNG fuel sales across the continent for trucking, marine and rail industries. The company plans to begin supplying LNG to Flying J truck stops in Canada this year.

Shell and TravelCenters have entered an exclusive negotiating period to finalize the agreement.