CALGARY—Shell Canada and Caterpillar Inc. are teaming up to test liquefied natural gas (LNG) power in oil sands mining trucks in northern Alberta.
According to the pair, they have signed an agreement to test a new engine and LNG fuel fix at Shell’s oil sands operations near Fort McMurray, Alta., “that could reduce operating costs and lead to reduced emissions from oil sands mining” in the province.
“We are excited to collaborate with Shell on this latest initiative to power Cat mining trucks with Caterpillar’s LNG technology,” Chris Curfman, Caterpillar’s vice-president of mining sales, said in a statement.
“Many of our customers are asking for natural gas-powered equipment in order to reap the financial and environmental benefits. This agreement further builds upon our efforts in delivering cost effective, reliable and innovative solutions to our customers.”
Under the agreement, Caterpillar will continue work to design and build a fully-integrated mining truck where LNG displaces most of the diesel power—also known as dual fuel—and will test the design at Shell’s Albian Sands operation in Alberta.
Shell will also retrofit existing trucks from its fleet with the new LNG engine for the trial, as well as provide fuelling infrastructure, at Albian Sands, about 75 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.
“To succeed commercially in the future, we believe we have to be able to compete both economically and environmentally,” Shell oil sands vice-president John Rhind said. “With heavy hauling being such a core part of our operation, success with this could make a real difference in our operations costs and emissions.”
Field testing of the dual fuel powered trucks is expected to begin in 2016, with the trial expected to last up to one year.