Shell puts LNG refuelling plan on backburner


Concept for string of outlets along Hume Freeway shelved but not abandoned, energy firm says

Shell puts LNG refuelling plan on backburner
Delay hits plans for Shell LNG bowsers

Shell Australia has suspended its LNG truck refuelling network plans just days after it sold its Geelong refinery and 870-site retail business, along with its bulk fuels, bitumen, chemicals and part of its lubricants businesses

The move comes just less than 12 months after Shell announced plans for LNG bowsers at eight truckstops along the Hume Freeway at Eastern Creek, Sutton Forest West, Sutton Forest East, Gundagai, Albury, Euroa, Bunker Hill and Laverton.

But industry experts and the company itself remain optimistic that LNG will be viable for transport applications at some stage.

"Shell’s LNG for transport project is not part of the sale that was announced on Friday," a spokesman says. 

"For now, the project has been put on hold by Shell, and the eight LNG refuelling sites that were in the design phase will not be constructed at this point.

"Shell still sees considerable opportunity for LNG as a transport fuel."

The precise reason for the move is somewhat unclear, with observers saying a variety of issues were involved.

One was said to be the price of oil that needed to be at US$1.10 a barrel or above to shift transport sentiment the impetus to make the change.

Another was the lack of suitable, readily available heavy vehicles from manufacturers.

One observer believes a change of management at Shell had led to a harder line being taken on proposals that may have not been thought through, given that domestic conditions were not conducive to lower-power applications that had proven viable in the US and China.

Clean Energy Fuels (CEF) Managing Director Romano Bernhard is confident that Shell’s move is not the end of LNG as an alternative trucking fuel but notes that trucking is a "reasonably conservative" industry.

"The demand will come," he says.

The Western Australian firm is focused on liquefied gas supply in remote areas for energy purposes but is keen to make product available for haulage.

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