Shell Oil Co. and its affiliates have signed a memorandum of understanding with TravelCenters of America LLC (TA) to sell liquefied natural gas (LNG) via TA’s existing nationwide network of full-service fueling centers.

Pending final agreements, the proposed plans include constructing over 200 LNG fuel lanes at about 100 TA sites and Petro Stopping Centers along the Interstate highway system. Shell said that if a final agreement is reached, the first of the LNG fuel lanes are expected to become operational in 2013.

“Using natural gas for transport gives truck fleet operators a new strong advantage because it’s abundant and affordable and a viable alternative to diesel,” said Elen Phillips, vice president, Shell Fuels Sales & Marketing North America. “This potential alliance with TA would enable Shell to deliver LNG fuel to customers who want a competitively priced fuel option to help them meet increasingly stringent air quality emission standards.

“Shell sees great potential for LNG as a fuel option among our range of quality fuels, due to the sheer abundance and affordability of domestic natural gas in North America,” Phillips added. “Where it makes sense and where there is customer demand, we will innovate to deliver LNG as an additional fuel offer to our customers across America.”

According to Shell, demand for alternative fuels like LNG from heavy-duty operators is growing due, in part, to the wide range of benefits for trucking operations. The oil company noted these benefits can include lower fuel costs and improved local air quality from reduced emissions at the point of use, particularly nitrogen oxide, as well as reduced noise levels.

Shell said the agreement with TA, the largest full-service truckstop chain in the U.S., represents the next phase in its plan to provide truck fleet customers with a robust fueling infrastructure.

Last year, Shell announced it would sell LNG to its heavy-duty fleet customers at select Flying J truck stops in Alberta, Canada, beginning in 2012, and the first LNG retail plaza in Calgary is expected to open this year.  The company said these developments “demonstrate how Shell is moving forward in its strategy to develop a global downstream LNG fuel sales business for commercial customers in the truck sector but also other growth areas notably marine, mining and rail.”

Shell noted that as an upstream LNG supplier, together with its partners, that it currently supplies more than 30% of the world’s LNG.

Houston-based Shell Oil Company is an affiliate of Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with 93,000 employees in more than 90 countries.