CNG: SHIFT OF PRIORITY

S.KAMAL HAYDER KAZMI,
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Research Analyst
, PAGE
Nov 28 - Dec 4, 2011

Most of the passenger vehicles in Pakistan are run on compressed natural gas (CNG). People use CNG-fuelled cars because of their economic advantages. However, CNG is also environment friendly if used under safety standards. Therefore, it is also called clean fuel.

CNG is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. It consists mostly of methane. It is formed on natural gas.

Compression allows natural gas to be stored in high-pressure fuel cylinders. An odorant is normally added to CNG for safety reasons.

Although CNG is inflammable, it has a narrow flammability range, making it an inherently safe fuel.

Strict safety standards make CNG vehicles as safe as gasoline-powered vehicles. In the event of a spill or accidental release, CNG poses no threat to land or water; it is nontoxic. CNG also disperses rapidly, minimizing ignition risk relative to gasoline.

Natural gas is lighter than air and does not pool as a liquid.

Nevertheless, indoor leakages may form a flammable mixture in the vicinity of an ignition source.

CNG is primarily methane, which is a greenhouse gas that could contribute to global climate change if leaked. Methane is slightly soluble in water and under certain environmental conditions (anaerobic) does not biodegrade; if excess amounts accumulate, the gas can bubble from the water, possibly creating a risk of fire or explosion.

BUSES

There are some different safety concerns with CNG buses than diesel fuel buses such as greater breaking distance due to increased fuel storage system weight. This is a relatively small concern, however, because the fuel system is a small fraction of a bus' total weight. Currently, Pakistan is the largest CNG using country in the world. Due to existing price differential between CNG and petrol, consumers prefer to convert their petrol vehicles to CNG.

Presently, there are 3,329 CNG stations operating throughout the country. As of March 2011, about 2.5 million vehicles had been converted to CNG.

The governments' policy of de-dieselization is being actively pursued nationwide to achieve import substitution. For instance, the diesel operated intra-city urban public transport is being phased out in Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore Faisalabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad/ Rawalpindi.

PRESENT ISSUES

The CNG association of Punjab demanded of the government to call off the two-day holiday of CNG and make CNG available the whole week but the government has not changed the decision.

CNG is so far an inexpensive fuel comparable to other existing alternatives. Ban on CNG use is tantamount to adding economic woes to the masses, who are already on the cusp of water, electricity, food, shelters, security, and other basic necessities.

Undeniably, Pakistan is running out of its gas resources. Equally undeniable is the fact that there are vast untapped gas resources in Sindh and Balochistan. The government needs to speed up its efforts to make these resources useful for the economy. Gas importation is also said to be feasible. Other consumer and environment friendly fuels should also be explored.

CONSUMPTION OF GAS (PERCENT CHANGE)

YEAR TRANSPORT (CNG) MMCF CHANGE (%)
2001-02 7,369 66.6
2002-03 11,320 53.6
2003-04 15,858 40.1
2004-05 24,443 54.1
2005-06 38,885 59.1
2006-07 56,446 45.2
2007-08 72,018 27.6
2008-09 88,236 22.5
2009-10 (July-march) 99,002 12.2
2009-10 71,225 -
2010-11(p) 81,400 14.3

No serious attempt has been made to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) for last 10 years. There is a need of comprehensive energy policy.

EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION (E&P)

Oil and gas development company limited (OGDCL) studded 20 wells in July-March 2010-11, showing an increase of 33 per cent in the drilling activities as compared to the corresponding period last year.

The company produces oil, gas, liquefied petroleum gas and sulphur. Average oil production in nine months was 36,852 barrels per day as compared to 36,312 barrels per day during the corresponding period last year while the average gas production during July-March 2010-11 stood at 854 mmcf as compared to 868 mmcf.

The production of LPG came down to 122 metric tons per day compared to 124 metric tons per day. Average sulphur production during the period was 71 metric tons per day whereas it was 68 metric tons per day during the same period last year.

The company made two successful gas discoveries: one in Sindh and the other in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The company continued its offshore activities at three different blocks and has also engaged in joint ventures too.

CONCLUSION

Natural gas is one of the principle sources of energy to meet our many day-to-day needs. Pakistan discovered the world's 7th largest treasure of natural gas field at Sui, Balochistan areas.

Presently, the shutdown of CNG stations is a live example of failure of the government. This crisis has affected our economy so badly, that dozens of factories have been shut down owing to undersupply, causing unemployment across the board.