Petronet pitches for LNG as auto fuel

Richa Mishra Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on May 09, 2011

Petronet LNG Ltd (PLL) wants to tap the transport sector by selling LNG as auto fuel. At present, PLL is selling LNG for use by power plants, fertiliser and CNG companies.

PLL, which has the licence to sell gas, has approached vehicle manufacturers such as Ashok Leyland and Tata Group to make buses that run on LNG (liquefied natural gas). “LNG is a safer fuel than LPG or CNG (compressed natural gas). We have spoken to State transport corporations in Maharashtra and Kerala to try LNG in some of their buses,” Mr A.K. Balyan, Managing Director and CEO, told Business Line.

Internationally, it has been proven that vehicles can run on LNG. “The US and China operate buses on LNG. In fact, LNG can also cool the engine, which in turn will reduce the load on air-conditioning system,” he added.

As regards pricing, he said, “It can compete with current price of diesel and CNG.” Compared to LPG cylinders used for transport sector, for a medium size vehicle, a LNG-run vehicle gives marginally higher mileage – of half to 1 km more per mBtu.

LNG also means higher earning potential for transporters. “LNG use reduces the deadweight of vehicle because it requires much lighter tanker and thus, allows higher pay-load capacity,” said Mr Balyan.

“We have suggested that as a pilot project the vehicles can be used at our Dahej plant to transport employees,” he added.

PLL has also approached the Railways with a proposal to use LNG as a fuel. Additionally, PLL is in talks with Shipping Ministry to evaluate if LNG can be used as a fuel for vessels used in coastal trade. “The idea is to create small hubs along the coast which can be used as fuelling stations. However, to create this infrastructure we would need financial support from the Ministry,” he pointed out.

Recently, reports from China said that Hainan province in China has entered into an agreement with Kunlun Energy Co Ltd, a PetroChina company, to spearhead the use of LNG-fuelled buses.

According to earlier studies, as an automotive fuel, LNG is almost exclusively used in heavy-duty vehicle applications – it, therefore, displaces diesel as fuel. In 2003, in the US, there were nearly 1,000 operational LNG transit buses.

“In fact, internationally the aviation sector is also exploring the use of LNG as fuel,” he said, pitching for use of LNG as transport fuel.

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Published on May 09, 2011
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