Carriers, shippers and fuel distributors said they are working together to increase the number of natural gas Class 8 vehicles on the road and the number of CNG and LNG fueling locations nationwide. Industry executives made the comments while speaking at a natural gas symposium in Park City, Utah, Aug. 6. Salt Lake City-based refrigerated carrier C.R. England hosted the event.
Speakers said they’re responding to increased interest coming from all facets of the transportation and logistics industry.
“Of all of the customers I’ve talked to in the last six months, 90 percent of them want to know about natural gas,” said Frank Love, president and chief operating officer of Love’s Travel Stops.
Love was among several speakers at the symposium. Presenters also included Zach England, chief operating officer of C.R. England, Inc.; Jim Harger, chief marketing officer of Clean Energy; Amanda Copperthite, LNG business development, Shell; and Andy Bowman, logistics manager, The Hershey Company, among others.
Shippers at the symposium said they are entering into longer contracts with carriers committing to natural gas, which allows carriers to invest in the natural gas tractors with confidence. For example, The Hershey Company recently entered into a five-year contract with C.R. England and the carrier will add natural gas trucks into the dedicated service during the contract, Bowman said, adding that five years is longer than the company would normally commit to.
England said natural gas vehicles cost roughly 60% more than their diesel equivalents and, so far, the company has a negative return on investment on its CNG and LNG tractors. “That is going to be difficult for carriers to make these things pencil out,” England said. However, he added that the experience has been invaluable and C.R. England remains committed to the cleaner burning fuel.
“We are very optimistic in the long run. Things are changing so quickly in the marketplace that we have to keep our head up,” England said.
Love said Love’s Travel Stops is also investing in the fuel and adding fast-fill CNG fueling technology at some of its locations in Texas and Oklahoma. “We as a truckstop operator are in the business of providing solutions to our customers,” Love said.
For Love’s, installing CNG, in which natural gas is delivered via pipeline then compressed, instead of LNG, in which natural gas is cooled and delivered via tanker truck, made sense because natural gas pipelines are near most of its locations.
“In the next two to five years, we saw from a supply side for CNG there is an existing network for distribution,” Love said. “We found there is a network line that touches 80-85% of our truckstops.”
Photo Credit: Mindy Long/NATSO
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