File Photo: Taxi in Cairo (Photo:Reuters)
It takes between two and four hours to convert a vehicle to run on the dual-fuel system, natural gas and gasoline, Egypt's petroleum minister Tareq El-Molla told a cabinet meeting on Sunday.
Using natural gas as an alternative fuel saves up to EGP 1,200 (approximately $75) a month for vehicle owners, he added.
The cabinet meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and attended by four ministers, was held to follow up on the country's strategy on bi-fuel system conversion.
Egypt plans to scrape old and rickety cars manufactured over 20 years ago and replace them with new ones running on natural gas as well as to convert hundreds of thousands of vehicles to gas-powered models.
The Egyptian strategy, which focuses mainly on microbuses and taxis, is meant to preserve the environment and make use of the country’s plentiful natural gas production.
El-Molla urged the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel for cars for its economical and environmental benefits, saying "the price of one m3 of natural gas is EGP 3.5, while the price of one litre of gasoline hovers around EGP 6.5-7.5."
If people's daily consumption of gasoline 80 is 10 litres, they can save EGP 825 a month and EGP 1,200 if they use gasoline 90, the minister added, noting that there are 28.5 million vehicles running on natural gas worldwide.
Last month, the Minister of Trade and Industry Niveen Gamea said each vehicle will be converted with a total cost ranging EGP 8,000 and EGP 12,000 (approximately $500 to $750), and the cost could be funded by small-interest loans.
Concerning the replacement of obsolete vehicles, she noted the first phase will kick off in seven governorates that are equipped with the adequate infrastructure to go ahead with the process.
Military production minister Mohamed Morsi said during Sunday's meeting his ministry has already taken measures to convert the buses of the Cairo Public Transport Authority to gas-powered models instead of diesel to be in line with the state's strategy.
Environment minister Yasmine Fouad stressed that emissions coming from transportation modes in Egypt cause the biggest share of air pollution the country is suffering from, especially Greater Cairo.
"The transport sector is responsible for one-third of air pollution in big Egyptian cities," Fouad told the cabinet meeting, citing a study carried out by her ministry over the past 20 years.
She said about 42,000 taxis were already replaced and scrapped in cooperation with the finance ministry.
"Some 1,000 microbuses in Cairo, which were manufactured over 30 years ago, will be scrapped and replaced with new ones running on natural gas," Fouad added.
Over the past six years, 118,000 vehicles have been converted to the bi-fuel system, bringing the total number of converted vehicles in the country to 322,000, the petroleum ministry said last month.
The government aims to convert 147,000 gasoline-powered taxis and microbuses to natural gas within three years and replace 240,000 diesel-powered microbuses with new natural gas vehicles over four years.
Egypt wants to rely on cheaper, cleaner energy sources and increase the amount of power generated from renewable energy sources to 20 percent by 2022 and 42 percent by 2035.
In July, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said Egypt will license new vehicles in August only if they operate on the bi-fuel system.