Oil companies, engine OEM’s, and truck OEM’s are all betting heavily on natural gas as an alternative to diesel, but one remaining obstacle to widespread adoption is the need for a nationwide end-user supply infrastructure.

Transport Topics reports that Shell Oil Company and Travel Centers of America are tackling that challenge by signing a memorandum of understanding to install LNG fuel lanes at 100 TA and Petro locations. The first LNG lanes would open in 2013, assuming a final agreement is reached.

Keep in mind 100 locations is less than half of total TA and Petro locations. Also, it is currently not clear whether these locations would be nationwide or clustered in selected regions. However, it would be logical to assume participating stations would be those on the most heavily traveled routes, and/or those closest to refineries. As such, it is realistic to expect this agreement to make LNG viable for regional and inter-regional trucking, bringing the fuel into the mainstream.

Over the next couple of years, increased adoption of LNG in the trucking industry will create interesting dynamics in the price of refined fuels, as well as alter the nature of demand for diesel vs. LNG powered trucks. NADA will continue to monitor the retail and wholesale markets for developing trends.