LNG Bus rolled out in Kerala
LNG Bus rolled out in Kerala

‘LNG as fuel in public transport to herald a green era in India’ 

With a final notification on use of LNG as an automotive fuel expected soon, Prabhat Singh, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer at Petronet LNG, hopes that the onset of LNG based transportation will have a benevolent impact on both bottomline of stakeholders and environment at large

India on threshold of inducting LNG as fuel for public transport

Singh is a pioneer in natural gas sector in India

The world energy market is changing fast! With it the natural gas market is also witnessing a change hitherto unseen. As per Prabhat Singh, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer at Petronet LNG Limited (PLL), the change has been swift and is as disruptive as in many other sectors. Singh is among the pioneers of the natural gas sector in India. Earlier as Chairman of GAIL Global Singapore Pte Ltd. (GGSPL), he was instrumental in creating a global trading arm at Singapore, which is currently creating value & managing India’s pioneering efforts towards global LNG business. Singh had also made significant contribution in putting India (GAIL) on the world gas map, being one of the first countries to have sourced LNG (based on Henry Hub) from the US. This has also brought the opportunity to build LNG ship in India under Government of India’s flagship’s programme ‘Make in India’.

 Defining the change in a phrase, Singh describes that like in many business today, legacy players are not having the powers to monopolise trade. Today, the revenues of a newly formed company into business can be higher than the legacy players, look at a raw comparison of growth in revenues of Air BnB and the Hyatt group for instance. Moreover, according to Singh, with the growing importance of shale gas and participation of large number of significantly small sized players- a new dynamism in the natural gas marketplace has been introduced. Two trends are amply clear at this juncture, that gone are the days, when OPEC dominated pricing mechanism in world energy markets and the future will revolve around greener, more efficient and affordable fuels.

To support the initiatives of the Government of India to increase usage of natural gas in the Indian economy and also to partially meet the commitments made during COP 21, PLL has initiated a number of steps, explains Singh. The most important initiative is in the area of introducing LNG as an automotive fuel, which will help the heavy duty vehicles including buses to run on LNG instead of diesel, which is greener as well as more economical as compared to diesel and also more suitable for heavy duty segment like trucks and buses. 

In this regard, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) has already released draft notification for use of LNG as an automotive fuel. Final notification is expected to be released soon.

“There is a widespread move to switch to cleaner fuels to reduce the impact on environment. Recent data shows that almost 200,000 heavy duty trucks are being added to the Indian roads every year. Use of buses is also increasing. In case we are able to use LNG in about 35,000 trucks instead of diesel, it helps the environment with the reduction of about 4.5 lac tonnes of CO2 per annum,” said Singh.

Recently, as part of a joint effort of Petronet LNG Limited (PLL), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd and Tata Motors Ltd to introduce LNG as a fuel in commercial vehicles, LNG fuelled bus was launched by the Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan in the august presence of the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan at Thiruvananthapuram.

“India’s Crude Oil consumption is expected to increase from current level of 200 MT to 229 MT by 2020 and 329 MT by 2030. If we are able to replace 10% of this consumption with LNG, then, at a crude level of USD 45/bbl, there is an annual savings of Rs. 12,000 crore and at this pace, the savings will increase to Rs. 20,000 crore by 2030.”

“The KSRTC, which has a fleet of 6,000 buses, has already announced plans to use natural gas. We will be very happy if they convert 10 per cent of new fleet into LNG, which should be replicated by other state road corporations. Likewise, truck owners can have great savings with LNG fleet. The costs of kit can be recovered in about two years. Our estimate suggest that an owner of 5000 trucks has potential of saving more than Rs 10 crore yearly,” said Singh.

“Likewise, on macro front, India’s Crude Oil consumption is expected to increase from current level of 200 MT to 229 MT by 2020 and 329 MT by 2030. If we are able to replace 10% of this consumption with LNG, then, at a crude level of USD 45/bbl, there is an annual savings of Rs. 12,000 crore and at this pace, the savings will increase to Rs. 20,000 crore by 2030,” he adds.

Its the golden period in world energy market and India should take advantage of a dynamic natural gas market, which will remain very competitive for years to come, believes Singh. Hence, creating infrastructure is the need of the hour with India projected to grow at high growth rate in the coming decades. “Hope, India also turns out to be one of the largest players in the LNG, which is adequate to serve India’s need and many other neighbouring countries. Petronet with its unique position in Indian Hydrocarbon sector and by leveraging support of the Government of India is poised to make its presence felt globally. PLL is in the forefront to set up LNG import terminals in the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,” echoed Singh.

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