‘Mattheeuws Eric Transport consists of two companies, Mattheeuws and Denecker. In March 2012, we got interests in LNG, we started a partnership with Volvo, Fluxys, Eni and RomacFuels. Together, we invested more than 2.5 million euros in the first commercial LNG gas station and 26 trucks who can drive on LNG. We really believe in this product, “says Eric Mattheeuws, CEO of Mattheeuws Eric Transport.
TM: This gas station was essential, because up to now you can’t refuel LNG in Belgium.
Eric Mattheeuws: That’s right. Currently our trucks refuel in the Netherlands. Our LNG station is still under construction, but at the beginning of the summer, it will be operational. RomacFuels, our spin-off, is the operator of the station. Together with Fluxys, the specialist of LNG in Europe, they are building the gas station. Everyone will be able to refuel LNG.’
TM: Launching new technologies is not obvious.
Eric Mattheeuws: ’Of course we thought about it. In 2013 we tested a first vehicle, a methane-diesel truck that imported from Sweden, to work in real conditions. Not much later, we have bought the first truck on LNG. And four weeks later, 25 trucks were ordered.
TM: It seems as the results were extremely positive.
Eric Mattheeuws: “The test was rather a confirmation of the theory of the trucks. We ensure actually for the application of new technologies. And we have also received support from the Agency Business. There always should be pioneers. Besides there are lot of advantages. LNG is the cleanest fossil fuel, it is less polluting and you have a range of 1,300 à to 1,400 kilometres. Thanks to the duel fuel principle, it is also economically viable. Because we have to refuel in the Netherlands, there are still about ten camions of the 26 that still run on diesel. But from the moment our gas station runs, we hope to use LNG. We also try to organize alliances with other stations. Next year, our entire fleet should drive on LNG, also the international transport. The advantage is that the trucks, meanwhile, remain active and gain 1,500 to 2,000 euros per month, which we need to pay the bills.’
TM: How long will it take before you earned back the investment of 2.5 million euro?
Eric Mattheeuws: ‘In similar situations is the payback period three to five years. Because we are not only the carrier, but we are also operator of our gas station RomacFuels, is the critical mass of course very important. We hope to replace 25 extra trucks by the LNG trucks next year and to build 25 retrofit installations. Another advantage is that the LNG tank itself lasts for fifty years. So if the truck has been written down, you move the tank to another truck. That is 10,000 euro that you can recycle.’
TM: Does LNG requires other safety regulations?
Eric Mattheeuws: In terms of fire risks it is just as secure as diesel. The biggest adjustment is the procedure to refuel, the product is -160 degrees C, so it requires a safety goggles and gloves when you are refuelling.’