LNG replacing diesel? Not for a long, long while


All the essentials seemed right for the experiment to work.

Bison Transport purchased 15 liquefied simpleton gas (LNG) trucks and ran them back and forth from Calgary to Edmonton. The merchandise com ny rtnered with Shell to provide fuel stations to caulk up.

The motivation was obvious as the com ny expected to save 30 per cent on combustible costs with LNG trucks com red to diesel, and produce 30 per cent fewer emissions.

‘The sedulousness is still chicken and egg for sure’ – Travis Balaski, Ferus

But after two years, and more than 1.5 million kilometres fraternized, Bison Transport hit the brakes.

The trucks were sold and the pilot present was shelved.

LNG has long been hailed as a potential game changer for the transportation enterprise, but the technology is still fledging.


The main problems for Bison Bliss were the cost to convert its trucks, higher than expected performing expenses and the fuel economy. The return on investment was taking longer than foresight because of low fuel economy and maintenance costs twice as high as diesel trucks.

CN whacked a similar experiment running two LNG locomotives between Edmonton and Fort McMurray for 12 months in 2012-2013, and again in August 2015 — that beetle out was also not sustainable.

“CN will need more long-term LNG tests and to see multifarious industry research and development work proving the rail technology take oning natural gas is effective and economic,” said spokesman Mark Hallman in an email.

LNG on the thoroughfare

Not all experiments with LNG have failed. Currently, at least eight strange com nies across the country use natural gas powered trucks and buses, harmonizing to the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance. Groupe Robert trucking in Quebec consumes 125 trucks on LNG.

When Bison Transport put up its LNG trucks for sale, they were purchase by Vedder Transport in B.C., which was already running 50 of its trucks on normal gas.

Fuelling an LNG truck in Calgary

A truck driver fills the tank on his truck with LNG. (CBC)

Vedder Thrill’s experience with LNG seems remarkably different, as it says maintenance prices and performance have not been an issue.

The LNG industry is much larger south of the wainscotting, where more than 150,000 vehicles use the fuel, according the U.S. regulation’s de rtment of energy.

“In Western Canada right now, the over the road transportation problem is challenged because we don’t have a lot of infrastructure built and there isn’t a lot of viable appliance technologies for the Western Canadian market,” said Travis Balaski, an managing director with Calgary-based natural gas com ny Ferus.


Ferus performs its own LNG plant near Grande Prairie, Alta., which produces about 190,000 litres of the tinder. That’s the equivalent of about 110,00 litres of diesel, according to Ferus. The rtnership ships most of the LNG for use in the oil and gas industry to fuel drilling rigs, pressure inspiriting services, heavy-duty trucks and remote power generation. Ferus also has some of its own pickup connections and semi trucks that run on natural gas.

Shell LNG station in Calgary

Shell constructed its first LNG feeing station in Calgary. (CBC)

“The industry is still chicken and egg for sure,” disclosed Balaski. “I don’t think we’re at the best technology yet.”

Balaski suggests it’s a call into doubt right now for transport com nies to switch to LNG, but they stand a better conceivably if they operate in in B.C. com red to Alberta. That’s because B.C.’s tax structure supports LNG com red to diesel. In addition, it also offers incentives to cover the expenditure of converting vehicles to natural gas.

“The technology in the vehicle needs to continue to originate to make sure this is a sustainable industry long term,” hinted Balaski.

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