China firm in US natural gas foray
LOS ANGELES: ENN Group Co Ltd, one of China's largest private companies, is quietly rolling out plans to establish a network of natural gas fuelling stations for trucks along American highways.
With plans to build 50 stations this year alone, ENN joins a small but formidable group of players - including Clean Energy Fuels Corp and Royal Dutch Shell plc - in an aggressive push to develop an infrastructure for heavy-duty trucks fuelled by cheap and abundant natural gas.
Clean Energy is backed by T. Boone Pickens and Chesapeake Energy Corp.
The move is yet another example of China's ambition to grab a piece of the US shale gas boom. Just last month, Sinopec Group said it would pay US$1 billion (RM3.11 billion) for some of Chesapeake's oil and gas properties in the Mississippi Lime shale.
The natural gas bounty is also expected to help wean the US transport industry off its dependence on diesel fuel made from imported crude oil, and the trucking industry is pushing to use more locally made fuel.
The average liquefied natural gas station costs around US$1 million to build, according to industry experts, putting ENN's investment this year at about US$50 million.
Today, there are 28 public LNG refuelling stations in the United States, according to the US Department of Energy. Reuters