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Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Vehicles to natural gas: Egypt going green

The government is pressing ahead with plans to convert petrol-powered vehicles to run on natural gas

Ahmed Kotb , Friday 8 Jan 2021
Vehicles going green
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President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi inaugurated Egypt’ s first Go Green exhibition on Monday to showcase technologies and financing programmes available for converting petrol-powered vehicles to run on compressed natural gas (CNG).

Encouraging the use of CNG in vehicles will also help to develop modern infrastructure and build new roads, as well as reduce the cost of subsidised petroleum products in the state budget.

Replacing traditional petrol with CNG will save vehicle owners about 50 per cent when they refuel their vehicles. The use of CNG will help to reduce pollution and save the environment, and it will help Egypt to benefit further from recent discoveries of natural gas and reduce the cost of importing diesel fuel.

The exhibition, which took place at Cairo’ s Al-Manara International Conference Centre from 4 to 6 January, saw the participation of major car companies operating in the Egyptian market, manufacturers of cars that operate on natural gas, agents and importers of dual-fuel cars which run on both petrol and CNG, automotive feeder companies, and nine banks presenting financing schemes.

The exhibition was held to showcase vehicles participating in schemes to replace older cars. The prices of these have not yet been announced, but they include private cars, taxis, microbuses, buses and lorries.

Egypt’ s Minister of Trade and Industry Niveen Gamea said the exhibition had seen the signing of cooperation agreements between the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Development Agency and the Natural Gas Vehicles Company (Car Gas) and the Egyptian International Gas Technology Company (Gastec) which both work in the field of conversion and the refuelling of all types of cars.

The agreements focused on a new financing package of LE200 million to carry out the presidential initiative to convert existing cars to work on different fuels.

At a press conference at the exhibition, Gamea said that the total number of cars targeted during the three-year presidential initiative to replace cars older than 20 years old was 250,000, or 70,000 cars during the first year, 90,000 during the second, and 90,000 during the third.

The initiative allows owners to replace an old car with a new one, with a financial incentive of up to LE60,000 as a downpayment for the new car working on natural gas at a three per cent interest rate.

Car owners could cut their fuel costs by almost half if they convert their cars to run on natural gas, Gamea said. One cubic metre of natural gas costs LE3.5, while the prices per litre of octane 80, 92, and 95 petrol are LE6.25, LE7.5, and LE8.5, respectively, with octane 92 being the most widely used grade in Egypt.

Hamdi Abdel-Aziz, a spokesman for the Ministry of Petroleum, said it planned to roll out 325 natural gas stations in 2021 in addition to the existing 225 ones.

Seven governorates will take part in the vehicle replacement project in the first stage, including Cairo, Giza, Qalioubiya, Alexandria, Suez, Port Said, and the Red Sea. “There is full coordination between all state agencies to fully implement the project,” Gamea said.

She said that nine local-assembly car manufacturers were participating in the programme in order to provide 12 different models of cars and microbuses, including private cars and taxis, in addition to providing a number of incentives.

There had been more than 1,900 requests to convert cars from petrol to gas on the first day of the project, she said, adding that such numbers were expected to continue.

Mohamed Al-Nil, conversions manager at Car Gas, said that natural gas had fewer emissions than petrol, and that the conversion time was between two and four hours. He added that the cylinders installed were completely safe and manufactured according to the highest international standards.

The government has announced that citizens wanting to participate in the programme can apply at www.gogreenmasr.com.

Cars included in the programme need to be manufactured in 2001 or before. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and no more than 55 years old with valid driver’s licenses. An applicant must pay the amount due on the car with proof of the financial ability to pay. The repayment period is up to 120 months, including a maximum grace period of three months.

Egypt adopted a recycling programme for cars for the first time in 2008, when the government decided to scrap taxis manufactured more than 20 years ago and provide their drivers with new ones. About 45,000 drivers benefited from the scheme.

About 320,000 vehicles, mostly taxis and minibuses, have been converted to dual-fuel systems since the late 1990s. Private cars now make up about 30 per cent of conversions, according to the Ministry of Petroleum.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 7 January, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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