CNG Fuel on Upward Surge in Brazil

| Brazil: Rio de Janeiro | Source: ABEGÁS and Argus Media

Brazil CNG conversion installationBrazilian compressed natural gas (CNG) sales reached a record 6.25mn m3/d in September as more motorists shift away from gasoline and hydrous ethanol, reports Argus Media. The Brazilian Association of Piped Gas Distributors – ABEGÁS – is projecting that 150,000 vehicles will be converted to use CNG this year, up from 127,000 vehicles in 2017.

For Marcelo Mendonca, the head of strategy at Abegas, the turning point for the industry came when Brazilian state-controlled Petrobras adopted a market-based fuel pricing policy in October 2016, which allowed CNG to compete head-to-head with gasoline and ethanol.

In the first three weeks of November, the price of a cubic meter of CNG is on average 35pc cheaper than a liter of gasoline. Cars can typically travel further with a cubic meter of CNG than with a liter of gasoline.

Mendonca said a truckers´strike in May triggered a 100pc increase in demand for CNG conversions. Brazil had about 1.86 million natural gas vehicles by mid-2018, less than 3% of the country’s total vehicle population.

Mendonca reportedly also sees significant potential to convert trucks and buses, which would help reduce emissions and Brazil’s dependence on imported diesel.

To continue to expand the overall domestic gas market, Mendonca highlighted the need to resolve several regulatory issues, including pipeline access.

NGV brings to the atmosphere almost zero local pollutants (MP and NOx) and 23% less CO2 than diesel. Economically, it is the most viable of alternative fuels. Earlier this year, in a survey conducted by ABEGÁS, on average CNG was selling at about half the cost of gasoline and 45% of the cost of ethanol, although variances according to prices in different will sometimes account for variations as low as 43% and 34% respectively. CNG costs about USD 5.30 to travel 100 kms.

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