x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Government to unveil CNG plans

The Government is expected to reveal plans this week to introduce compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative fuel for vehicles.

Pumps for CNG have already been set up at two Adnoc petrol stations in the capital.
Pumps for CNG have already been set up at two Adnoc petrol stations in the capital.

ABU DHABI // The Government is expected to reveal plans this week to introduce compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative fuel for vehicles. Cars that run on CNG, which is lead-free and comprised mostly of methane, produce 90 per cent less carbon monoxide than regular petrol, according to the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD). Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that contributes to air pollution. CNG also produces less of most other air pollutants than petrol when burnt. In particular, CNG-fueled vehicles do not spew lung-irritating particulate material into the atmosphere. And CNG produces 25 per cent less carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas associated with climate change.

The announcement is to come in a joint presentation on Tuesday during the City Gas MENA 2009 energy conference at the Sheraton Hotel and Resort by Abu Dhabi Gas Industries (Gasco), the company responsible for processing natural gas from onshore oil operations in Abu Dhabi, and Bauer Kompressoren, a Munich-based firm that specialises in CNG fuelling stations. They will also give an update on the emirate's first natural gas stations and plans for converting some government vehicles to run on CNG.

A representative from Adnoc Distribution is also to outline how conversion facilities can alter vehicles to run on natural gas, and share the Government's plans for promoting CNG to motorists. A technical committee chaired by the EAD, with representatives from Abu Dhabi Police, the federal Environment Agency and Adnoc, has been working on the natural gas plans, including the issue of converting vehicles, since 2005.

A report posted on the EAD's website said the Government expected to have 20 per cent of its vehicles running on natural gas by 2012. Two service pumps opened last month at an Adnoc station on Al Meena Road near Al Salam Street, and there are another 16 planned for Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. In Dubai, some abras have already been converted from diesel to CNG. An overall shift to CNG would improve air quality, said Gilbert Schoonhoven, a natural gas specialist with CNG Services in Britain who worked on Adnoc's natural gas project between 2006 and 2008, and will attend this week's conference. However, Mr Schoonhoven cautioned it usually takes a few years before people embrace it as an alternative to petrol.

"It is not a thing you can do overnight," he said. CNG's biggest disadvantage as a motor vehicle fuel is that it takes up more storage space than petrol. This is the main reason that consumers in many countries, especially those where smaller vehicles are popular, have resisted switching from petrol to CNG. Another problem for the UAE would be securing gas to supply to vehicle-fuelling stations. The country is already short of gas to fuel power stations and industrial plants. It recently started importing gas from Qatar, but has few options for increasing its gas imports.

According to the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles, there are more than seven million natural gas vehicles in use around the world. Industry experts from Europe, the US and Brazil are expected at the conference, which will also address developing natural gas markets for residential, commercial and industrial use. City Gas MENA 2009 runs from today until Wednesday. mchung@thenational.ae