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Trucks make the switch to LNG

Gas powered: Kenworth is producing dedicated liquid natural gas (LNG) trucks for companies wanting to make the switch from diesel.

LNG mini-plants set to supply truckers with gas as diesel fades into history

General News logo22 Jun 2009

By IAN PORTER

ONE of the biggest hurdles preventing widespread adoption of natural gas as a transport fuel is the lack of a national distribution network, but the BOC gas company reckons it has the answer.

It is installing a “big refrigerator” in Tasmania to produce 50 tonnes of liquefied natural gas a day by taking its feedstock gas straight from a natural gas pipeline that services residential customers. It will start operations early in 2010.

The plant is being installed after BOC was approached by trucking companies that wanted to cut their exposure to volatile diesel prices and make a contribution to Australia’s carbon reduction effort.

“The plant will service six refuelling sites and will keep 125 heavy duty vehicles on the road on a double shift basis,” BOC’s general manager of LNG, Alex Dronoff, told the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) gaseous fuels seminar last week.

Mr Dronoff said there would be an increasing need for alternatives to diesel as Australia would become more dependent on imports as local oil reserves dwindled.

“We are importing 40 per cent of our needs now, but this is forecast to be between 80 and 90 per cent by 2030,” he said.

“We will be much more dependent on the Middle East, Africa and South America.

“We have lots of gas, enough for more than 10 years at the current rate, and not much oil.” “If we are not careful, we will have a peak diesel repeat in two years’ time unless we do something.” Apart from the fact that Australian has lots of it, there are other benefits from gas. One is that the price has remained relatively stable for a long period.

“There is upwards pressure on the gas price, but it is not as volatile as the diesel price,” Mr Dronoff said.

In addition, an LNG engine produces 25 per cent less greenhouse gas and engines are quieter on LNG than on diesel.

Mr Dronoff conceded there were difficulties in creating the national distribution network that would be required for a wholesale adoption of LNG by the transport industry, but that he was confident it could be done.

“We intend to roll out these plants (like the one in Tasmania) across Australia – if we can get customers,” he said.

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