Add China's ENN Group Co. to the rather short list of companies rolling out a network of natural gas fueling stations along U.S. highways. Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (NASDAQ: CLNE) and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS-A) have a head start, but there is plenty of room for competition.
Clean Energy Fuels, which is controlled by oilman T. Boone Pickens, got some help in 2011 from a venture fund set up by Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) to begin building the natural gas refueling stops. ENN Group plans to build 50 refueling stations this year, according to an exclusive report at Reuters, at a cost of about $1 million per station. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that there are currently just 28 liquefied natural gas (LNG) refueling stations in the United States.
The refueling stations are aimed at supporting the conversion of the long-haul trucks that crisscross the country to LNG fuel. Currently about half the nation's garbage trucks are fueled by natural gas, but the refueling stations are local. ENN and the others are looking to a far larger market.
ENN Group and its U.S. joint venture, Transfuels, also operate a company called Blu LNG, which plans to build liquefaction plants, according to Reuters. LNG is easier to transport and requires less storage than the compressed natural gas used to fuel most garbage trucks.
The benefit to natural gas producers like Chesapeake and Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) will come in the form of higher prices for their gas production. In addition to the 50 stations planned by ENN, Clean Energy plans to open 50 to 60 stations this year, and Shell plans a total of about 100 over time.
Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Oil & Gas Tagged: CHK, CLNE, RDS-A, XOM