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Natural Gas to Power Russian Buses

Published: May 22, 2013 (Issue # 1760)


ST. PETERSBURG (SPB) Among talk of the problem of unpaid gas bills and the possibility of opening a St. Petersburg Gas Museum, participants at last weeks St. Petersburg International Gas Forum broached an issue of rare environmental significance the use of natural gas to power Russias buses, instead of gasoline.

Sponsored by Gazprom, the event, held, according to its website, with the goal of supporting Russias status as a leading player in the gas industry and a reliable partner, served as a platform where energy-related issues could be discussed, new industry-related technologies exhibited, and strategic plans presented.

On Monday May 13, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev signed a resolution stating that 50 percent of Russias public buses will be fueled by natural gas. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is widely considered a more environmentally friendly and cheaper alternative to gasoline or diesel.

Currently, there are 300,000 to 350,000 registered buses and vans operating on a regular basis in Russia, and only 86,000 of these are CNG-fueled, Kommersant reports. China, by comparison, has nearly 1.5 million vehicles using natural gas for fuel. Russias number would have to double for Medvedevs resolution to be fulfilled.

President Putin supported the resolution at a meeting, stating, [natural] gas is cheaper than gasoline or diesel; Besides, it reduces emissions. Putin added that switching to natural gas would cut greenhouse gases two to three times, and that Russias position as the worlds most natural gas-endowed country provides a clear competitive advantage.

The resolution also came as a welcome development for the Russian gas giant Gazprom, because it assures the company a new, albeit small, market for its gas. According to Kommersant, if the CNG-fueled bus fleet were doubled, then an estimated additional 1 billion cubic meters of gas per year would be supplied to the domestic market. This number is, however, relatively insignificant when compared to the roughly 460 billion cubic meters of gas annually consumed in Russia.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller spoke about the implications of the initiative for St. Petersburg. The environmental situation in the city will improve and additional funds will be freed up for other needs.

The lack of adequate infrastructure, seen as the main hindrance to the governments 50 percent goal, was also discussed at the forum. Spokesperson for Gazprom subsidiary Gazprom Germania, Alexander Lukin, informed participants that while Germany has about 900 CNG fueling depots, Russia houses only around 250, about 200 of which are owned by Gazprom.

Miller called St. Petersburg a strategic center for the gas industry due to its proximity to the Nord Stream Pipeline and to the route of the proposed Yamal-Europe 2 Pipeline.

The idea of increasing the use of natural gas as a motor fuel is not new and has been gaining momentum in Russia in recent times. On December 24 of last year, Miller was present at the opening of St. Petersburgs first multi-fuel filling station, on Pulkovskoye Shosse near Pulkovo airport. Plans are underway to construct six more such depots along the M-10 route between St. Petersburg to Moscow.

Lack of infrastructure is not the resolutions only obstacle: Safety is also a concern. On Victory Day in Moscow, an empty CNG-powered bus blew up following the explosion of one of its cylinders. Russia has no regulatory framework for its CNG-fueled vehicles, according to Energy Minister Alexander Novak.





 


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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Apr. 23


Problems facing the elderly are in the spotlight at Senior Generation 2014, an international forum at LenExpo beginning today that focuses on drawing attention to and providing information about some of societys most vulnerable members. An exhibition combined with a trade fair will help those interested be better equipped to help this demographic.



Thursday, Apr. 24


Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegations visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.


AmChams Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.



Friday, Apr. 25


Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finlands Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from www.culturalkitchen.fi.



Saturday, Apr. 26


At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping malls Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.



Sunday, Apr. 27


Families shouldnt miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.



Monday, Apr. 28


The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBAs Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.



Tuesday, Apr. 29


Improve your English at the British Book Centers Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.