Stripes Taking 'Next Step' With CNG

Two compressed natural gas sites in Midland, Texas, leading way for larger rollout

Steven DeSutter (center), Mark Bruchman (left),
Eddie Montoya (right)

MIDLAND, Texas -- Susser Holdings Corp. held an event Aug. 30 at a Stripes convenience store in Midland, Texas, to tout its retail compressed natural gas (CNG) offering, according to The Midland Reporter-Telegram. Although the location has offered CNG fueling for the last year, officials gathered at the site now to officially celebrate what Steven DeSutter, president and CEO of Stripes LLC, called the next step in the company's history.

"Behind me," he said as he stood in front of a line of CNG pumps, "is a new form of hydrocarbons, a new form of motor fuel."

The company spent $1 million each to install CNG facilities at two Midland locations, said the report.

"Adding natural gas to our conventional motor fuel products reinforces our mission to give Stripes customers what they want at a great price in our convenient store locations," DeSutter said last November when Susser announced that it would open the facilities in a partnership with Houston-based Apache Corp., one of the world's top independent oil and gas exploration and production companies.

"We certainly see the role of natural gas in our energy future, and we are looking forward to participating as it evolves as a viable alternative transportation fuel. We plan to evaluate the results of our pilot project in West Texas, and if it is successful, we expect to gradually roll out CNG fueling capabilities in other Stripes markets," he added.

"We approached Stripes a couple of years ago, at a time CNG was not well known," Mark Bruchman, Apache's general manager of operations, told the paper. "This will be a significant piece of the energy puzzle and energy independence. This is a product that's available here and now."

DeSutter predicted the nation's landscape will be dotted with CNG fueling facilities because the new transportation fuel "is coming fast, and it's coming heavy."

But he acknowledged that it will take time as demand for CNG builds. "I see the consumer side coming on as affordable vehicles are built and conversion comes," he said.

"Natural gas discovered and produced in the United States is a smart alternative to conventional fuels. It's cheaper, cleaner and abundant," Steve Farris, Apache's chairman and CEO, said in November. "We use it for our fleet cars and trucks with great results, lowering operating costs and reducing our environmental footprint. Partnering with Stripes provides our fleet and other CNG users with a more convenient fueling experience as well as access to their stores and other amenities."

Bruchman told the paper that Apache is teaming up with companies like Stripes, Pilot Flying J and Love's to make CNG more accessible, to make refueling more convenient for drivers of CNG-fueled vehicles. Developing an infrastructure, he said, will be "huge" in persuading consumers to adopt the new fuel.

Click here to read the full Midland Reporter-Telegram report.

The facilities were built in order to "meet the immediate demand being generated by vehicles owned or operated by Apache, and for the long-term anticipated growth that CNG is expected to experience," Craig Scotton, Stripes' senior director of fuel services, told NGT News in a separate report. "Apache has two bases of operations in Midland--a field operations location with CNG vehicles used in the oil field that is adjacent to our I-20 store, and an office in town very near our Big Spring Rd. store, where they are encouraging their employees to convert their personal vehicles to CNG."

Click here to read the full NGT News report.

Susser Holdings is a third-generation, family-led business based in Corpus Christi, Texas, that operates approximately 570 c-stores in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma under the Stripes banner. Restaurant service is available in approximately 365 of its stores, primarily under the proprietary Laredo Taco Co. brand. Susser Holdings also is majority owner and owns the general partner of Susser Petroleum Partners LP, which distributes more than 1.5 billion gallons of motor fuel annually to Stripes stores, independently operated consignment locations, c-stores and retail fuel outlets operated by independent operators and other commercial customers in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana.