ASTANA – In response to government plans to enact a law abolishing taxes and fees for liquid petroleum gas (LPG) users, KazTransGas is planning to construct 105 new methane filling stations in addition to the 508 LPG filling stations currently available. While the law will create an option for drivers, LPG usage in vehicles will remain safe, economically sound and environment friendly.
“Installation of LPG equipment costs 100,000 – 150,000 tenge (US$538-$808) and in the context of present prices for gasoline pays back in half a year. If you use an SUV, the converting cost is up to 300,000 tenge (US$1,616) and it will pay its way in 10-12 months. There are 508 gas filling stations in our country,” said Minister of Energy Vladimir Shkolnik at the Oct. 8 enlarged meeting of the Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) Committee, according to tengrinews.kz.
Varvara Gutchenko, manager at Gazcenter, a major service station in Astana, commented after Shkolnik’s speech regarding the change-over.
“We don’t call on everybody to convert their cars to LPG consumption. It is irrational to convert some vehicles; for example, old cars or cars with insignificant everyday kilometrages. It is also unwise to convert a car if its owner plans to sell it in the near future, because the cost of converting won’t pay for itself in a short span of time.”
“But we can talk about the increase in demand for our services from one year to the next. One of the reasons is that LPG usage makes vehicles more environmentally friendly. It is especially relevant for cities with bad ecological situations, for example, Almaty, which is stifled by vehicle exhaust gas,” she said.
“Today, LPG costs are also twice as cheap as low-octane gasoline and three times cheaper than high-octane gasoline. Besides, up-to-date LPG equipment sufficiently increases engine life, decreases engine oil pollution and the converted car has two fuel tanks, which means that its trip distance doubles,” she added.
Gutchenko also discussed the safety of LPG equipment.
“First of all, I would like to state that up-to-date equipment is absolutely safe. Even more, such LPG equipment is safer than the standard gasoline system of a car.
“An LPG tank’s wall thickness is 3-4 mm. A gasoline tank’s wall is 0.5 mm. It is much firmer than a standard fuel tank, which has been proven in ghastly accidents. Also, an LPG tank is equipped with a multivalve, which disables its explosion. All you need to do is to choose the right place for converting and further maintenance of your car,” she said.
When converting a car to natural gas consumption, Gutchenko noted the importance of selecting a qualified company to complete the work.
“The minimum price at our company for LPG converting amounts to 165,000 tenge (US$889) for a four-cylinder passenger car. We don’t give preference to any brand, because every brand has its own advantages and peculiarities without regard to the country of its production. But we can say that Italian, Turkish and Polish equipment is the best. You know Italian companies started to produce the equipment in the 1960s and have great work experience,” she said.
“A car owner should write a written request for LPG equipment installation to a corresponding official dealer. The official dealer hasn’t the right to refuse such a request and we have a lot of car owners who saved their warranties, because our service station has all the necessary corresponding certificates,” she explained.
While Gutchenko noted that conversion registration isn’t complicated, approximately only 12,000 such vehicles are registered in Kazakhstan. The real number is possibly much higher.
The conversion has one disadvantage – the loss of free space in the trunk, which is solved by using a toroidal tank, she said. The tank is installed instead of a spare wheel or under the body of the car, truck, pickup or SUV.
Gutchenko also sought to dispell a myth about LPG users.
“We have absolutely different clients; for example, we equipped Daewoo Matiz. If you don’t know, it is three-cylinder, very small car. We also worked on brand-new models of BMW, Lexus, Range Rover and other luxury cars. Apart from the fact that these cars are very expensive, these cars are very complicated and have very protected electronics. Sometimes we have to dismantle half of a car to install LPG equipment. Electronic adjustment is very hard, but we do it. The Toyota Land Cruiser is the most popular model we are working on. This model amounts to approximately 50 percent of the cars we are working on. It should be noted that we don’t have many women among our clients. We haven’t had more than five female clients since 2009. I don’t know the reason. Maybe they are afraid of LPG usage. Maybe they aren’t interested in automobile tuning,” said Gutchenko.
Approximately 600 buses using natural gas operate in Almaty, which amounts to 37 percent of all buses, as reported by auto.lafa.kz.
Gazcenter sales director Dmitri Likhachev talked about converting diesel vehicles to LPG.
“In Astana, one of the bus fleets is going to convert its diesel buses to a gas diesel system, too. We actively develop converting diesel engines, which are used in logistics companies and passenger transportation companies. It is very important, because vehicles in such companies have very high everyday kilometrages. And in spite of less economic efficiency in gas diesel systems, converting enables companies to save money. As you know, saved money is earned money.
“Also we are ready to equip vehicles with methane equipment, but there are no methane filling stations in Astana,” he said.
Likhachev also commented on government actions: “We consider that converting all state vehicles to LPG usage could be a good decision and save a vast amount of money. Gas consumption is accompanied by sufficiently-less pollution than gasoline or diesel fuel consumption. Converting 1,000 buses to gas leads to the decrease of CO2 to the amount of six tonnes per year and carbon soot three-five times.”
The government plans to enact a law concerning a national green economy that could make gas usage more attractive, because taxes and fees will be abolished for the owners of vehicles with gas equipment.
“KazTransGas embraced a course of action to construct 105 new methane filling stations. After this programme is carried out, trucks will be able to run from Khorgos to the border with Russia,” said Greenauto Director Rustam Issayev.