Pickens says Wal-Mart to study switch from diesel

T. Boone Pickens, founder and CEO of BP Capital Management, testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee about alternative energy plans at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington July 22, 2008. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens said on Wednesday he has convinced the head of Wal-Mart Stores Inc to study the possibility of switching the fuel used for the retailer’s huge fleet of delivery trucks to compressed natural gas, from diesel.

Wal-Mart officials confirmed that Pickens was a guest speaker at a monthly associates meeting September 13 in Bentonville, Arkansas, with chief executive Lee Scott and thousands of Wal-Mart employees.

According to a weekly e-mailed update promoting wind power and the use of natural gas for transportation as a way to pare U.S. reliance on imported crude, Pickens said Scott was “impressed by the Pickens Plan.”

Told that Wal-Mart, the world biggest retailer, currently operates 8,500 trucks, Pickens said Scott then asked an executive to study what would be involved in replacing the diesel fleet with trucks that run on natural gas.

Wal-Mart has launched a variety of efforts to meet Scott’s goal to reduce the company’s energy consumption and waste while increasing its recycling effort. Switching to compressed natural gas is one of many ideas the company reviews to meet its efficiency and renewable targets, said Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter.

“To have America’s largest retailer looking into shifting their trucking fleet to run on natural gas is a major step towards our country’s energy independence,” the Pickens Plan e-mail said.

Reporting by Eileen O’Grady; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Carol Bishopric