Appalachian Basin

TravelCenters of America CEO Touts Benefits of Natural Gas

This week, EID-Ohio traveled to downtown Cleveland for the 41st Annual Meeting of the Eastern Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.  The meeting, presented by the Ohio Geological Society, features informative technical sessions and networking opportunities for geoscientists and those involved in the field.  While the topics varied, all attendees were listening intently when Tom O’Brien, CEO of TravelCenters of America, provided keynote remarks for the event.    He enlightened the group of mostly upstream scientists with a downstream perspective on developing natural gas markets including the recent surge in natural gas vehicle utilization throughout the United States.

TravelCenters of America announced in June that they hope to add at least 200 natural gas fuel dispensers at its truck stops along U.S. highways starting in 2013.  The Westlake-based company has teamed up with Shell Oil Co. to bring natural gas to at least 100 travel facilities.

EID-O had a chance to catch part of O’Brien’s Keynote address:

Afterward, he took the time to chat with us about the future of CNG vehicles:

Many customers are talking about the advantages, or perception of advantages today, of natural gas versus diesel engines, the principle one being the lower cost of the fuel itself—Tom O’Brien (:33)

TravelCenters of America isn’t the only company to jump on opportunities provided by the increased production of natural gas.  Although they are paving the way for larger companies to follow, they are joining several fleets around the country and Ohio who have already converted their fleets.  We recently covered the unveiling of Smith Dairy’s new natural gas fueling station in Orrville.  In April, Frito-Lay announced it would add 67 CNG trucks with plans to modernize their entire fleet in the coming years.  Other national companies making the switch include Sunny Delight and AT&T.  More locally, the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority has set plans to switch their vehicles to natural gas.

The growing number of companies making the transition to natural gas vehicles is partly due to the abundance of cheap natural gas from developing shale plays across the U.S. and partly due to high diesel prices.  Trucking companies are considering alternative fuels, and natural gas seems to be the logical answer.  The obvious problem is the lack of infrastructure, but companies like TravelCenters of America are changing that and creating a solution to the problem.  Shale development is helping companies cut costs and create new jobs for Ohio’s families.

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