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Boston Firm to Bring NatGas to Energy Desert on Olympic Peninsula

Boston-based Xpress Natural Gas (XNG) has plans to bring truckloads of compressed natural gas (CNG) to the energy-starved Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest on the western side of Puget Sound opposite Seattle.

An XNG spokesperson confirmed the yet-to-be-announced plans for NGI on Thursday. The company has been doing something similar in New England (see Daily GPIDec. 31, 2013).

The cornerstone of the plan is to build a CNG distribution terminal in Puyallup, WA, connected to Williams' interstate Northwest Pipeline Co. system next year and begin truck deliveries of CNG to an energy-intensive Port Townsend Paper Corp. paper and pulp mill that is switching from oil to natural gas at the northern end of the peninsula.

While operating its own trucking fleet on CNG, XNG plans to market its facility as a fueling depot for what it hopes will be an expanding natural gas vehicle (NGV) fleet market in the Pacific Northwest. "We know our station will provide trucking companies with up to 50% fuel savings versus diesel," an XNG spokesperson said.

While three well-established natural gas utilities serve most of the state of Washington, the Olympic Peninsula has no natural gas pipelines, and XNG officials contend there are "many businesses and institutions located across the Northwest that cannot get pipeline service due to the high cost of expansion given the area's topography." Thus, XNG thinks its CNG business can fill a void, replacing diesel and oil burning.

XNG operates what it describes as the largest fleet of high-capacity all-composite CNG trailers in North America, and it touts itself as the "only provider" of CNG services using CNG-powered tractor-trucks. It offers both liquefied natural gas (LNG) and CNG service on the U.S. East Coast with a customer mix of large industrials, hospitals, colleges and local utilities.

In addition to the paper production plant, XNG plans to provide CNG fueling infrastructure and mobile CNG fueling services throughout the region.

Noting it would locate in Port of Tacoma in the south end of Puget Sound, Matt Smith, XNG executive vice president for sales and marketing, said the CNG facility will be "well positioned to help accelerate the adoption of NGVs" in a state he said is at the forefront of efforts to encourage trucking fleets to convert.

Elsewhere in the Northeast, a new CNG fueling station is available in Lancaster, NY, east of Buffalo thanks to a partnering of American Natural Gas (ANG) and Tops Friendly Markets, which has committed to replacing it 55-unit fleet with CNG fueled Freightliner Cascadia trucks leased from Ryder Systems, a major global proponent for the use of alternative fuels in fleets (see Daily GPIMay 21, 2012).

Tops executives said the supermarket chain expects to cut its transportation fuel bill in half with the switch to CNG. ANG CEO Drew West predicted that Tops' move "is going to set the pace for the grocery industry."

ANG is leasing the CNG station site from Tops, and the fueling company will own, operate and maintain the facility, which will have twin 400 hp Cobey compressors. The station will be private with an output of approximately 17 gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE)/ minute for Tops' fleet that serves its markets in upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania and western Vermont.

Another CNG fueling firm, TruStar Energy has moved into Houston's Galleria district, acquiring an existing station from Apache Corp., which will continue to supply the gas for the facility. TruStar is in the midst of a national push to open "dozens of company-branded public CNG stations" along high-traffic U.S. corridors over the next several years.

The Houston station has two traffic lanes and two fast-fill pumps, providing what access for both commercial fleets and individual vehicle owners.

Earlier this summer, TruStar opened new CNG fueling stations in Orlando, FL, and Tulsa, OK.

CNG fueling equipment manufacturer Agility Fuel Systems said it has set Oct. 21 to open its new Salisbury, NC, assembly plant. That will be the official opening of the CNG fuel cylinder assembly production plant.

Announced earlier this year, the 204,000-square-foot production facility is near heavy-duty truck and bus OEM assembly plants in North Carolina, Agility officials said. Salisbury is 14 miles from the Freightliner factory in Cleveland, NC, and Agility has as a seven-year supply contract with Daimler-Freightliner.

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