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10 March, 2019 12:56:32 AM

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LPG to soon become drivers’ delight

FAISAL MAHMUD, Dhaka
LPG to soon become drivers’ delight

As fuel of motorized vehicles, the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Bangladesh is yet to attain popularity at the mass level, but the path to establish LPG as a major alternative fuel is already laid out.

 Also referred to as butane and propane gas or ‘autogas’ in motoring circles LPG is a by-product of the processing of natural gas liquids as well as the refining of crude oil. While traditionally it was deliberately burnt off and wasted, it is now recognized as a versatile low-carbon fuel—and used productively.

Although cars are unlikely to be more fuel-efficient when running on LPG, a user of this fuel could still halve fuel bills.

Once the cost of the LPG conversion has been paid off, this could add up to significant savings—and the more a person drives, the more s/he saves.

According to the statistics of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), there are some 10,000 LPG-run vehicles on the country’s roads. Every month, about 90–100 new vehicles are being converted to run on LPG.

An official from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) said that the government had made several attempts to reduce the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) in households and vehicles.

As a part of that plan, LPG is being termed as a viable alternative that could be used in motor vehicles. Already three private entrepreneurs have got permission from the government to establish over 1,000 autogas filling stations across the country.

Is LPG better?

Autogas has been able to establish itself as an environment friendly alternative. The level of carbon monoxide, carbon-dioxide, sulfur-dioxide and nitrogen oxide that are emitted from petrol and diesel vehicles pollute the environment to a large extent, whereas autogas doesn’t pollute the environment by emitting those gases to that extent.

CNG—which is now the most popular fuel for vehicles—is made up of molecules of CH4. This combination of one carbon atom with four hydrogen atoms carries a lot of energy; whereas LPG is a mixture of propane (C3H8), propylene (C3H6), butane (C4H10), and butylene (C4H8).

This is the mixture often found in camping stoves. LPG’s exact composition varies from region to region. In Germany, for instance, LPG is largely made up of propane and propylene. In neighbouring India, however, it is largely made up of butane and butylene.

It is the composition of a given blend of LPG that determines its antiknock quality and the rate at which the fuel is consumed. For instance, LPG rich in butane carries a lot more energy than LPG rich in propane.

In winter, drivers of LPG vehicles must be sure to fill up with what is known as “winter gas”, which contains a higher proportion of propane, since it is far more difficult to vaporize butane in the cold, say experts.

LPG in Bangladesh  

The Intraco Group, one of the largest private entrepreneurs in the country’s energy sector, has established the first digital LPG autogas filling station in Bogura. In October 8, 2017, Hakim Ali, chairman of the Intraco Group, inaugurated the first autogas filling station at the Shahjahanpur upazilla of Bogra.

Omera Gas One, a subsidiary of Omera Petroleum Ltd, is the country’s largest autogas provider as of now.

Talking with The Independent, Kamal Hossain, General Manager (Sales) of Omera Gas One, said they have already established 10 autogas stations in different parts of the country.

These stations have been established in Dhaka, Chattagram, Bogura, Satkhira, Feni, Gazipur and Cox’s Bazaar. “Each month, around 10-12 vehicles are being converted in our workshops, set up along with the autogas stations.”

Kamal said the conversion price using traditional kit was Tk 30,000–Tk 35,000 and a sequential kit Tk 50,000–Tk 60,000.

The GM of Omera Gas One informed that the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has invested $20 million as a long-term loan in Omera Petroleum to help the company double its capacity and increase the availability of LPG, especially in rural areas.

The International Finance Corporation loan is part of its project to double its capacity and make LPG available in nearly all sub-districts of the country. This will expand LPG access to 350,000 additional households (around 12 per cent of total market potential) over the life of the loan.

It will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing kerosene, wood, and other hazardous cooking fuels, and allowing the limited reserves of natural gas to be diverted to power generation and industries, said Kamal.

Beximco Petroleum Ltd, a subsidiary of the Beximco Group, meanwhile, has got the approval to establish 500 autogas filling stations and 25 workshops. It also purchased the first LPG carrying vessel in Bangladesh to sail on international waters with the national flag.

The vessel, named BEXPETRO 1, with an LPG carrying capacity of 2700 MT, is the first Bangladeshi ship to directly procure LPG at source. This marks a major milestone not only for LPG operators in Bangladesh but also for the nation at large as this paves the way for a more cost-effective and efficient LPG supply chain.

Beximco Petroleum also in collaboration with Index Power & Energy (a Beximco company), has already set up a state-of-the-art ISO 9001 certified LPG plant in Mongla with a capacity of 3000 MT.

Autogas policy

The government, without fixing the pricing formula for autogas, issued a circular over two years back for “Auto gas, establishment of re-fuelling station and conversion workshop, its operation and maintenance policy-2016.”

The circular, released in December 2016, said the refuelling station owners had to sell auto-gas as per the price and standard fixed by the government. But EMRD officials are still in the dark about how to fix the price and standard for the gas.

The government circular also said that instead of octane, petrol and diesel for the vehicles, LPG gas had gained popularity across the world as an environment-friendly fuel.

The policy said that no person or organization could establish any auto gas refuelling station or auto gas conversion workshop or take part in its operation or maintenance without the approval of the government.

The government will have the right to cancel the approval of any auto-gas refuelling station or conversion workshop if it breaks any conditions, law or regulations mentioned in the policy.

If a joint-venture company is formed along with a foreign company, then the company has to complete its registration with the Board of Investment (BoI) and the existing government rules and regulation regarding that will be applied in that case.

For establishing auto-gas station, the distance between two gas stations on the same side of the road inside a city corporation and district town should be at least two kilometres and it should be four kilometres otherwise.

For establishing an auto-gas station on the opposite side of the road, the distance between two gas stations inside a city corporation and district town should be at least one kilometre and it should be two kilometres otherwise.

Without getting approval and licence from the Department of Explosives, establishment of new stations or change or extension and additionpr removal in the old establishment cannot be made.

For the approval, a station must have the licence issued by the Department of Explosives along with the station plan, licence and approval from the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), the certificates and the copy of the certificates of the employed persons and the no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Fire Service and Civil Defense (FSCD).

The auto-gas refuelling station has to be established within a year of getting the primary approval.

Any person or organisation can get the approval for autogas workshop if it is established within 100 metres of a bus stand and bus terminal. Besides, there are several other conditions, by fulfilling which, a person can get the permission to establish a workshop, says the policy.

EA

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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