United Parcel Service (UPS) has called on the backing of Seal Beach, CA-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp. for its fuel and fueling system. To fuel UPS, the T. Boone Pickens-founded supplier of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for transportation relies on a liquefaction facility it operates in the western edge of Southern California's Mojave Desert near Boron, CA.

Clean Energy will build and operate a $1.5 million fueling station for 48 UPS big rigs in Las Vegas, but the LNG will be supplied by the transportation fuel company's $75 million, 40-acre facility in Boron, home of the world's largest open-pit borax mine.

The facility is similar to the one Clean Energy opened in Texas five years ago, the Pickens Plant in Willis, TX, about 60 miles north of Houston, which produces 100,000 gallons of LNG daily.

UPS recently bought 48 LNG-fueled heavy tractor trucks (see Daily GPI, Feb. 24).

UPS' investment in facilities for dispensing LNG for trucks is what Clean Energy officials have said is a major step toward the company's goal of having a veritable "Southwest LNG truck fueling corridor," running from San Diego to Salt Lake City, UT. Clean Energy is banking on more LNG-powered trucks being put in service despite the fact that their engines reportedly cost about twice as much as a diesel-fueled tractor-trailer.

Vancouver, BC-based LNG truck engine maker Westport Innovations recently told the New York Times that it has orders for 230 new engines in the next 12 months. If they are on the road in the Southwest they will no doubt be using LNG produced by the Clean Energy facility.

It processes about 7.5 MMcf/d into LNG, according to a Clean Energy spokesperson. The plant's overall capacity can handle up to 23 MMcf/d.

Employing a "small, 24/7 staff," the facility supplies about 56 tanker trucks delivering LNG to its own stations and to its customers' facilities. Clean Energy has no plans at present to build more liquefaction capability, the spokesperson said.

Clean Energy's facility is supplied through El Paso Natural Gas' Mojave Pipeline. It maintained the ability to store up to 1.8 million gallons of LNG. In gaseous form that amounts to up to nearly 150 MMcf.

Designed as a regional facility, Clean Energy touts its LNG production facility as the largest of its kind in the Southwest.

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