Back in the 1980s, oil magnate T. Boone Pickens thought that natural gas would be a superior fuel because it was cheaper, cleaner, and safer. There would also be less reliance on foreign sources for energy. So by the mid-1990s, he started a company to capitalize on the opportunity and made a variety of acquisitions along the way. The company is now called Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ:CLNE) and had its IPO last Friday. To the disappointment of investors, the shares are still resting virtually spot-on at their $12 offering price.

Clean Energy provides natural gas primarily to high-volume fleet customers like refuse haulers, regional trucking companies, taxis, and public transit. The company's distribution system includes a fleet of 48 tanker trailers, 172 natural gas fueling stations, supply relationships with companies like Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) and ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), and its own liquefaction plant in Texas.

Clean Energy has been smart in building a system to make it easy for its customers to deploy natural gas fleets. One key service is designing and building the fueling infrastructure. There's also a division that provides financing of gas vehicles from companies like Cummins Engine and Deere (NYSE:DE). Clean Energy even has specialists to help secure government grants and tax credits for both customers and the firm itself. Once the infrastructure is established, Clean Energy then provides ongoing maintenance services.

The company has more than 200 fleet customers and operates more than 14,000 natural gas vehicles. Over the past year, revenues increased 17.4% to $91.5 million. The company is unprofitable, but that could change soon. In Q1 of this year, the net loss was $870,179.

With high oil prices, stringent regulations, and constrained refining capacity, Clean Energy's market opportunity looks compelling. The company has major competitive advantages because of its experienced management, brand identity, customer traction, and sophisticated infrastructure. Foolish investors looking for a way to play natural gas adoption in the U.S. should keep tabs on Clean Energy.

Related Foolishness:

Fool contributor Tom Taulli, author of The Complete M&A Handbook, does not own shares mentioned in this article. He is currently ranked 2,817 out of 29,306 rated players in Motley Fool CAPS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.