Cleveland.com – Thursday, June 07, 2012
TravelCenters of America LLC hopes to open the first of at least 200 natural gas fueling lanes next year at its truck stops along U.S. highways.
The Fortune 500 company, based in Westlake, has entered a memorandum of understanding with Shell Oil Products U.S. and affiliated companies to bring natural gas to at least 100 travel facilities. Shell will build the fueling lanes, which TravelCenters will operate.
Rising prices for traditional fuels are pushing automakers and trucking companies to consider natural gas, a much cheaper commodity. New drilling and extraction techniques have made natural gas more abundant and affordable. For months, TravelCenters executives have been fielding questions from analysts and investors about the company's plans regarding natural gas fueling options.
TravelCenters, a publicly traded company, runs 238 facilities under the TravelCenters of America, TA and Petro Stopping Centers names. Most of those truck stops are located at exists along the interstate highway system.
The company expects to train technicians and set up some of its 1,000 truck-service bays and 400 emergency roadside repair vehicles to truck engines powered by natural gas.
Shell and TravelCenters still are working out the terms of their deal, under which the companies would jointly choose locations for the natural gas fueling lanes.
"TA is pleased to be partnering with Shell, one of the largest energy companies in the world, to create the infrastructure necessary to offer TA's trucking company customers an alternative fuel choice," Thomas O'Brien, the company's chief executive officer, said in a written statement. "TA is especially pleased to be helping ensure America's energy independence."
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