Which Would You Prefer: Pipelines or Trucks?

Scania LNG trucks

Don’t like gas pipelines? Maybe you’ll like LNG trucks better.

As the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline endure the legal agonies of the damned here in Virginia — the odds are increasing that neither will be built — a Pennsylvania company has begun liquefying natural gas for delivery by tractor-trailer.

Edge Gathering Virtual Pipelines 2 LLC began well-site production of LNG and making truck-delivered LNG sales in May. States a company press release: “Without the need for pipeline access, EDGE expects to make LNG a viable and competitive physical energy solution for end-use consumers and gas utilities across the U.S.”

Within the next year, EDGE expects to obtain and deploy a fleet of LNG-fueled tractors, to make customer deliveries even more cost effective.

Bacon’s bottom line: LNG trucks have a couple of big advantages. They don’t require eminent domain to cross peoples’ land. They don’t create an erosion and water-quality problem. They don’t require the same difficult-to-obtain regulatory approvals of pipelines. And they don’t require a massive up-front capital commitment to meet a supply for natural gas that may or may not be around 30 years from now.

On the other hand, I’m guessing, a lot of people won’t be happy with large fleets of 40-foot, LNG-bearing trucks crowding their already-congested highways. Moreover, the EDGE press release makes no mention of cost. Assuredly, the cost per thousand cubic feet is higher than for a pipeline — a cost that electric and gas utilities will pass on to rate payers.

EDGE’s first delivery is to a New England gas utility 300 miles away from the Marcellus shale production site in Pennsylvania. Pipeline capacity to New England is far more constrained than it is in Virginia, so the economics of the EDGE gas delivery system may work be better there than here. On the other hand, near- and intermediate-term capacity is increasingly constrained in the southern Mid-Atlantic as well. One thing Virginians might want to think about: If the ACP and MVP pipeline projects are scuttled, what are the odds that we’ll start seeing LNG trucks on Interstates 95, 81 and 64?

Hat tip: Rick Gechter