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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.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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