Natural gas promoted to reduce trawler costs

Natural gas promoted to reduce trawler costs

Energy Minister Viset Choopiban (second from left), GSB president Goanpot Asvinvichit (left) and PTT president Prasert Bunsumpun (third from left) jointly open the “NGV for People” project yesterday. — NATTHITI AMPRIWAN
PTT Plc is promoting the use of natural gas, which costs 60% less than diesel, in trawlers to help fishing fleet operators deal with high fuel costs.

The country’s largest energy company is currently conducting a study on NGV (natural gas for vehicles) in trawlers and is optimistic that it will prove commercially viable.

Tests are being carried out in Khanom, Nakhon Si Thammarat, on a trawler that normally consumes 100 litres per day of diesel, according to Chitrapongse Kwangsuksathit, a senior executive vice-president of PTT.

If the tests are successful, PTT will start promoting the installation of NGV equipment on trawlers and supplying NGV refuelling stations by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, PTT and the Government Savings Bank (GSB) have signed an agreement to provide financial support to owners of all types of vehicles wishing to install NGV equipment under the ”NGV for People” programme.

A second agreement running until Sept 30 covers four shuttle van operators who want to convert their fleets to NGV.

Energy Minister Viset Choopiban said shuttle vans that travelled at least 50 kilometres a day along routes where NGV stations were located were good candidates for the switch.

Under the first agreement, PTT will subsidise the cost of converting 5,000 vehicles at 10,000 baht each. The GSB would then offer low-cost loans to cover the remaining equipment and conversion cost, which ranges between 30,000 and 45,000 baht per vehicle.

Mr Viset said the government hoped NGV would replace about 10% of the petrol and diesel now consumed, or about 2.1 billion litres a day, by 2008.

GSB president Goanpot Asvinvichit said the bank would offer credit lines of up to 50,000 baht per vehicle for NGV conversion.

Rates for civil servants and state enterprise employees will be one percentage point above the minimum leading rate (MLR), currently 6.75% per year, with a repayment period of five years. Rates for the general public will be 1.5 points above MLR.

PTT president Prasert Bunsumpun said it would cost 30,000 to 40,000 baht to convert a gasoline-powered vehicles with multi-point fuel injection to use both NGV and gasoline.

While retail pump prices have increased sharply, with premium gasoline now above 25 baht a litre, PTT has maintained the NGV price at 8.50 baht per kilogramme. Based on equivalent heating value, NGV is 70% cheaper than premium gasoline, 60% cheaper than diesel and 33% cheaper than LPG.

Mr Prasert said PTT was speeding up the expansion of NGV refuelling stations, aiming to have 100 operating in bangkok and upcountry by year-end, compared with 34 at present.

Outside of the capital, two outlets are planned for Saraburi and another two at Pattaya and Laem Chabang in Chon Buri. One station each will be constructed in Phetchaburi, Ratchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan.

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