KUALA LUMPUR: The use of natural gas, a fuel which is more environment-friendly than petrol, is set to expand with plans by Petronas to build another 90 natural gas stations by 2009.
Baharuddin Ahmad, manager of the business and retail network planning department in Petronas NGV Sdn Bhd, said the new stations, capable of serving about 57,000 vehicles, would make the fuel more readily available for drivers.
“The use of natural gas is now hindered by the lack of stations, which can be set up only in areas served by the peninsula gas pipeline network,” he said at a workshop on Environmental Challenges of Climate Change on Monday.
There are now only 38 stations offering natural gas. Of these, 31 are in the Klang Valley, four in Johor Baru, two in Negri Sembilan and one in Prai.
The new stations will be concentrated in the Klang Valley, Johor Baru, Penang and Malacca.
Baharuddin said the availability of the fuel would encourage more private vehicle owners to switch to natural gas, which emits 60% less carbon monoxide and 90% less non-methane hydrocarbons than petrol.
Since Petronas launched its Natural Gas for Vehicle Programme in 1991, 11,000 vehicles have been converted to run on natural gas and 90% of them are taxis.
To promote the use of natural gas in heavy vehicles such as buses and lorries, Petronas will launch trial runs of a Korean-made natural gas bus in September.
“If this proves viable, the Transport Ministry can consider making it mandatory for buses to use natural gas as this will reduce air pollution,” said Baharuddin.
He said a study by the Malaysian-German Technical Co-operation showed that converting diesel buses to run on natural gas would lead to a 46% drop in emissions of carbon monoxide, 66% of nitrogen oxides, 76% of particulates and 62% of non-methane hydrocarbons.
All petrol-engine vehicles can be converted to run on natural gas. The conversion costs about RM2,800 and can only be done at 12 Government-approved workshops. All are in the Klang Valley except for two in Prai and Johor Baru.
Government incentives to encourage the use of the green fuel include a 50% discount on the road tax for vehicles which run solely on natural gas, a 25% discount for those on dual fuel (natural gas and petrol), as well as import duty and sales tax exemptions on equipment required for the switch to natural gas.