Use of vehicle gas offers 70% saving in fuel costs

04/09/2003 - 21h59

São Paulo, September 5, 2003 (Agência Brasil - ABr) - The consumer who chooses to convert his (her) vehicle to operate with compressed natural gas (CNG) can save over 70% in fuel costs, compared with gasoline. According to Ítalo Oliveto, coordinator of the Natural Gas Program of the National Institute of Measures, Norms, and Industrial Quality (Inmetro), it is easy to verify the savings. He gave as an example what it costs to run a 1.0 vehicle, known as an economy car: A motorist who drives 100 kilometers per day, using CNG, will spent around R$ 7.46. If he (she) burns gasoline, the difference is significant: It will cost around R$ 13.24 to cover the same distance.

According to Inmetro, approximately 700 thousand vehicles all over Brazil have been converted to CNG. The states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have around 400 filling stations, allowing consumers to avoid having to wait hours on line, as was the case when this type of fuel was first introduced. Currently around 18 thousand vehicles are converted each month, mainly vehicles used in public transportation and the taxi fleet. According to Oliveto, the number of vehicles powered by CNG in Brazil should reach 1 million, by 2004.

For the vice-president of the Brazilian Automotive Engineering Association, Geraldo Rangel, who organized the seminar "Natural Gas Vehicles: Technical-economic Sustainability," in the city of São Paulo, prospects for this industrial sector should change for the better, following the announcement made by Petrobras that it re-evaluated the volume of natural gas reserves discovered in the Santos Basin, off the coast of São Paulo, raising its estimate from 70 billion cubic meters to 400 billion, thus increasing the country's reserves from 231 billion to 631 billion cubic meters. "The discovery in Santos will favor the market and instill confidence in consumers who opt for CNG," Ranger observed.

"Over the next five years, the utilization of CNG-powered vehicles should attain the mark of 10% of the country's total fleet, representing a real alternative in terms of savings," Rangel commented.

At the seminar the Association called for the creation of a seal of approval, which is under study at the National Petroleum Agency. With the seal, the inspection of CNG-powered vehicles will be facilitated, assuring the quality of the conversions and the security of the motorist, Rangel explained. He guaranteed that the engines of vehicles adapted to use natural gas do not lose potency. He cautioned that it is important to have the conversion done in shops authorized by Inmetro.

Data from the National Transportation Department (Denatran) indicate that there are currently around 35.6 million vehicles in circulation in Brazil. (DAS)