Case Study: Audubon Leverages Engineering Expertise to Support Shell’s First Hydrogen Truck Refueling Station

Case Study: Audubon Leverages Engineering Expertise to Support Shell’s First Hydrogen Truck Refueling Station

Oct 26, 2022 | Clean Energy

Client: Shell
Industry: Energy & Chemical
Location: California, United States


  • Conceptualization study
  • Procurement
  • Front-end engineering and design (FEED)
  • Construction management

The Port of Long Beach, California, is America’s second-busiest port and is a major gateway for trade with Asia, Europe, and Oceania. In 2022, the Port commissioned Shell to construct a new hydrogen truck refueling station that would serve as the first stop for vehicles being offloaded from import vessels at the port. The facility would receive high-purity hydrogen generated from biogas via a high-pressure stainless-steel pipeline. To assist in delivering the project, Shell turned to Audubon Engineering Company (Audubon) for engineering, procurement, and construction management services. The successful project helped California further its position as a leader in the hydrogen-powered vehicle market.

Challenge: Complex considerations for design, engineering, and infrastructure

Potential issues required careful thought to circumvent risk and ensure optimal productivity. Some of these challenges included:

  • Pipeline routing—The Port region is heavily populated and highly congested with infrastructure, including industrial properties and an active construction area. Routing the pipeline through and around these obstacles required extensive planning.
  • Engineering and material selection—Hydrogen pipelines are prone to hydrogen-induced cracking (HIC), which occurs when atomic hydrogen diffuses into the alloy wall of the pipe, creating crack-like defects that can reduce service life and introduce HSE risk. Mitigating this threat mandated careful material selection and pipeline design.

Solution: Audubon’s multidiscipline expertise for end-to-end project efficiency

A key stakeholder in the project, Audubon developed a comprehensive project plan that leveraged its multidisciplinary experience and broad portfolio of services. The Audubon team of experts worked with Shell to deploy a conceptual study and FEED services. Then, the team procured the hydrogen pipeline distribution system and associated infrastructure. All-welded construction was recommended to minimize the risk of HIC and to improve the facility’s safety profile. Audubon also provided surveying, mapping, permitting, and right-of-way solutions to ensure seamless project advancement. From concept and implementation to final delivery and handover, Audubon helped boost efficiency and save costs while adhering to the highest standards of safety and service quality.

Impact: On-time handover that furthers state’s energy transition initiatives

Audubon successfully modeled the hydrogen pipeline system and recommended a line size that could scale to accommodate the future fueling rate. The company completed engineering services on time, enabling material ordering and delivery to efficiently flow into the construction timeline, maximizing uptime, and expediting time to execution.
Now successfully completed, the facility delivers sustainable alternative fuel for passenger vehicles, buses, and heavy-haul trucks. This plays an important role in California’s efforts to decarbonize the mobility and transport sector. With the help of Shell and others, the state plans to triple its hydrogen fueling stations over the next five years.

To learn more about this project, read our case study here.