Drivers convert to CNG following petrol price hike

More and more residents and government vehicles started turning up to the Emirates Transport’s CNG conversion centres since fuel prices were deregulated.

Converting to gas can save some drivers as much as 50 per cent on their journeys. Pawan Singh / The National
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ABU DHABI // The number of motorists heading to Emirates Transport’s compressed natural gas (CNG) conversion centres has grown since fuel prices were increased last month.

Many who converted their vehicles to CNG, a more efficient fuel, said they were satisfied with the money they were saving.

“I changed for two reasons - to save money and to protect the environment,” said Emirati Mohammed Khalifa, who converted his vehicle a month ago.

“I did this due to increase in petrol prices. I used to take petrol for about Dh2,000 in a month but now since I got the CNG I spend only Dh1,200 a month,” said Mr Khalifa, who drives a Nissan Patrol.

“I believe there are not many CNG gas stations in the country. Once it spreads across the country, this [fuel] will be the best to drive on because it saves money and is good for the environment.”

Since the fuel prices were increased earlier this year, CNG vehicle drivers spend around 50 per cent less on fuel than those with petrol-driven car. Before the price rise, users saved around 35 per cent.

Maher Al Refai, manager at the Abu Dhabi Technical Services Centre of the Emirates Transport, said: “Now the financial savings approximately are 50 per cent on the converted CNG vehicles. This is because of inflations in petrol prices. Before we had only 35 per cent savings.”

For example, you can cover 100 kilometres on Dh20 petrol but similar distance by CNG propelled car can do in Dh10, he said.

CNG prices have remain unchanged and are sold at Dh1.32 per cubic metre.

So far, 5,500 vehicles have been converted since 2010 when Emirates Transport began offering the service. Most of these belong to government entities and taxi companies. But now private vehicle owners are showing their interest in it, Mr Al Refai said.

Exact figures for private vehicle’s conversion, the authority will issue end of this year as people started enquiring about this since oil prices deregulated, he said.

“But we want more private vehicles to come and we are publicising about this and lowered conversion cost as well,” he said,

Mr Al Refai said he hoped the savings would encourage more to convert to CNG.

Emirates Transport, a federal entity, began converting petrol vehicles to CNG in August 2010.

“We reduced the conversion cost to invite more people to conversions and it’s 100 per cent safe. In the past five years we have not received a single complaint about it,” Mr Al Refai said.

In 2016, the authority has plans to open a new conversion centre in Ras Al Khaimah, he said.

“We opened a new CNG conversion centre at the beginning of this year and filling station in Al Qusais of Dubai and we have converted so far 129 vehicles,” he said.

There are three conversion centres: Khalifa City, on the outskirts of the capital; Zakhir in Al Ain and Al Qusias in Dubai.

There are 17 CNG filling stations in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and the authority is in talks with Adnoc to add five more by end of the year. There are three in Dubai, two Jebel Ali and one in Al Ghusais.

“Our target is to increase the number CNG filing stations to 35 before end of next year opening 13 new filling stations in Abu Dhabi,” Mr Al Refai said.

If a private or government company has fleets and wants to convert its 150-200 vehicles, the authority said it will consider installing a filing station in the area, he said.

“There is more response now from individuals and residents. As of now, we can say more private people are coming for conversions and many are enquiring about the conversions,” he said.

In Al Ain’s Mazyad area, another conversion centre to come up beginning of next year, Mr Al Refai said.

The authority plans to start converting diesel buses in January.