Motorists can save more than 65 per cent of cash they spend on fuel if they choose to use natural gas in their vehicles instead of costly petrol, says Modestus Lumato, a Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) Senior Petroleum Engineer.
Lumato says: “Both petrol and natural gas can be used in a single car, it means that the user can opt to switch their car from natural gas to petrol when the gas is spent up and there is no gas filling station in the neighbourhood.”
Currently, according to Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC), the cost of petrol fuel per litre is Sh2,200 against that of natural gas per litre which is Sh1,400, saving about Sh800, almost 30 per cent.
And while a litre of petrol can run for about 10 kilometres that of natural gas can be used for 15 kilometres, Lumato, says in a recent exclusive interview with The Guardian, adding that any vehicle can use natural gas after installing special equipment to change the system (conversion kit).
The current cost of installing gas equipment in a car is Sh1.5 million, but according to Lumato, from August the cost is expected to decrease owing to the fact that the government has removed all taxes on gas.
To date Tanzania has only one natural gas filling station located at Ubungo Maziwa in Dar es Salaam, with TPDC saying they are planning to add two more in this year’s budget at Mwenge and Mikocheni.
Installation of a gas filling station is costly but ultimately the aim is to have such stations in different parts of the country after the exercise is completed in Dar es Salaam, says Lumato.
For example, to lay a gas pipe from Ubungo to Mikocheni, a distance of seven kilometers, the cost Sh7 million, he explains.
They have started with Dar es Salaam because of its high pollution and thereby help protect the environment as natural gas is environment friendly compared to petrol because the latter will emit smoke. Natural gas reduces carbon emissions.
There are 52 cars that use natural gas in Dar es Salaam which is good in terms of vehicle security. If released there is no fire accident as gas escapes immediately it is released, which is not the case with petrol.
Seleman Kibaja, a public service bus driver at Ubungo at Dar es Salaam, says natural gas is a good alternative. The cost of oil is factor, but if our bosses will accept natural gas instead of oil it will help us in reducing the bitterness of life.
A father of three, Kibaja tells The Guardian that they are required to submit Sh70,000 per day to the bus owners regardless of what they collect. “There are days we find our selves empty handed because the remaining money ends in buy fuel; if we were using natural gas, we would be happy with our jobs as we would remain with enough money to support our children.”
Dr Bohela Lunogelo, Executive Director in Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), says that inflation which caused by internal and external factors can be controlled.
One among the two causes the economist mentions is high price of fuel, which is due to as oil is bought at high cost; that means it leads to high production costs. He advises the use of natural gas in various areas such as in industries as well as in vehicles.
He suggests the country should localise production areas to reduce the transport costs associated with high price of oil, thereby keeping down the food prices.” For example, Dar es Salaam, consumes foodstuffs produced in Iringa, Mbeya and Rukwa regions paying high prices as a result of transportation cost,” he said.
Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, with up to 20 per cent of other hydrocarbons as well as impurities in varying amounts such as carbon dioxide.
Natural gas is widely used as an important energy source in many applications including heating buildings, generating electricity, providing heat and power to industry, as fuel for vehicles and as chemical feedstock in the manufacture of products such as plastics and other commercially important organic chemicals.
Natural gas is found in deep underground natural rock formations or associated with other hydrocarbon reservoirs in coal beds and as methane.
Most natural gas was created over time by two mechanisms: biogenic and thermogenic. Biogenic gas is created by methanogenic organisms in marshes, bogs, landfills, and shallow sediments.
Natural gas is an important source of energy for reducing pollution and maintaining a clean and healthy environment. The use of natural gas also offers a number of environmental benefits over other sources of energy, particularly other fossil fuels
Another benefit of natural gas is that natural gas (largely methane) burns more cleanly than the other fossil fuels (45 per cent less carbon dioxide emitted than coal and 30 per cent less than oil) It is easily transported via pipelines and fairly easily using tankers (land and sea).
It can be piped into homes to provide heating and cooking and to run a variety of appliances. Where homes are not piped, it can be supplied in small tanks. It can be used as a fuel for vehicles (cars, trucks and jet engines) where it is cleaner than gasoline or diesel.