Dubai Plans Comprehensive Adoption of CNG for Fuel

| UAE, Dubai | Source: Khaleej Times

DM’s Humaid Al Marri checks an installed CNG kit. (Satish Kumar / The National)

Pipeless natural gas fuel stations will be introduced in Dubai as part of the Emirate’s plans to implement cost-effective and environment-friendly natural gas transportation solutions, reported the UAE’s Khaleej Times earlier this month. Government vehicles will be the first to switch to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), followed by private cars, as the Emirate strives to reduce carbon emissions and cut fuel costs.

Various actions are already being carried out:

Dubai Municipality (DM) has unveiled its pilot project of converting five of its vehicles to use natural gas. It is the apparently the first Government department to deploy CNG-powered cars.

Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of Dubai Municipality, said the second phase of the DM project will see a total of 438 commercial and medium-sized vehicles of the municipality switching to natural gas. “The project contributes to the economic benefit as it will achieve an estimated fuel saving of about AED 2.3 million (USD 0.63 million) a year in the event of converting 400 vehicles,” Lootah said.

Humaid Al Marri, Director of Transportation at DM, said the Transportation Department will work with its strategic partners to get the approvals required to become one of the officially approved bodies to convert vehicles to natural gas.

Emirates Gas LLC (EMGAS), a member of the ENOC Group wholly owned by the Government of Dubai, has finalised a plan to build “mother, daughter and on-line stations” to supply CNG for the entire Emirate.

Hesham Ali Mustafa, General Manager of Emgas  explained, “Our plan is already finalised. We are now in consultations with various government departments in Dubai to know the volume of gas required to be supplied. Once they decide how many of their vehicle fleets can be converted, we will go ahead with the procedures for infrastructure development.”

The ‘pipeless’ mother-daughter system will largely avoid disruption likely to be caused by extensive pipeline installation, although later project tasks will include some pipeline work. Mustafa said these stations will be supplied gas from the Emgas mother depot through trailers which will have a bank of cylinders that can be locked on to dispensers in daughter stations.

Speaking at the launch of DM’s pilot scheme, Mustafa said “We have a very robust plan in how we’re going to introduce the CNG infrastructure in Dubai.” Emgas will develop the infrastructure in two phases. The first between 2011 and 2014, will focus on building two CNG main stations connected to the existing natural gas pipeline as well as four to five CNG sub stations.

Phase two will boost the infrastructure to six stations connecting two pipelines and 19 CNG on line stations.

“We are being very cautious in our approach and there’s going to be a lot of factors that depend on the expansion of our programme. The whole system depends on the availability of vehicles so we have a very extensive marketing plan of approaching fleet users and converting their vehicle,” said Fazal Ali Khan, Emgas CNG Development Manager.

Mohammed Abu Baker Al Hashemi, Director of Strategic Planning and Business Development at the Public Transport Agency (PTA) for Dubai, said on the sidelines of the recent UITP Dubai and Mobility Expo that “oil is not going to last long and we need to explore better and cleaner options”. He explained this was the reason why the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is planning to convert its entire fleet of buses into the compressed natural gas (CNG) mode and a pilot project in this regard will start in two months, reported the Khaleej Times in a separate article.

The RTA is said to be negotiating with service providers to convert the buses and the plan is to study the performance of a bus for a few months in a pilot study and based on the results, recommendations would be made for the entire fleet.

Conversion is expected to be completed by 2020.

The RTA has earlier introduced a fleet of CNG-powered abras (water taxis) and hybrid taxis.

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