Oil and gas industry billionaire T. Boone Pickens and other investors injected another $150 million into the natural gas transportation fueling company Pickens founded, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., it was reported Thursday. Clean Energy’s CEO confirmed the additional capital for the gas transportation infrastructure company, which is based in Seal Beach, CA.
Pickens used warrants he has held to purchase 15 million shares of the publicly held company for $10/share. Pickens reportedly bought 1.5 million shares and transferred the balance to existing major investors, RRJ Capital, Seatown Holdings and Chesapeake Energy Corp., along with Chief Capital LP, an investment unit wholly owned by energy investor Trevor Rees-Jones.
The company said the latest investments bring the total capital invested or committed to Clean Energy to $450 million in 2011.
Clean Energy’s stock price so far has not appreciated in the midst of continued low gas prices and increasing interest by fleet operators in converting to run on natural gas: compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). A column by analyst and investor Mark Henwood on Wednesday about a favorable energy ratio (natural gas prices relative to crude oil per-barrel prices) engendered only a sluggish response by the market to Clean Energy’s common stock.
Clean Energy emphasizes that currently CNG or LNG is priced up to $1.50/gallon lower than diesel or gasoline depending on local markets, and that using natural gas in vehicles “reduces costs significantly for vehicle and fleet owners,” along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions up to 30% in light-duty vehicles and 23% in medium-duty vehicles.
Clean Energy CEO Andrew Littlefair called the additional capital from Pickens “a tremendous affirmation” of both Clean Energy as a leading natural gas fueling company in the United States and “America’s Natural Gas Highway” initiative, which is helping expand CNG/LNG transportation fueling infrastructure in cities nationwide (see Daily GPI, Aug. 25, 2011).
Littlefair reiterated the ongoing program that Clean Energy is heading to develop CNG and LNG fueling stations “serving fleets in the long-haul, regional and port trucking markets, as well as for solid waste, transit, airport and municipal transportation nationwide.”
In Baytown, TX, near Houston, Littlefair’s firm opened the first facility of what it is billing as a 150-station natural gas highway as part of a partnership between Pilot Flying J Travel Centers and Clean Energy, the builder, operator and fuel supplier for the new LNG dispensing station.
At the end of 2011, Clean Energy said it had fueling stations in more than 257 locations nationwide and in Canada. The gas highway already boasts more than 100 LNG truck fueling stations connecting major freight trucking corridors, the company said.
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