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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

Thursday, Oct. 30


Dental-Expo St. Petersburg 2014 concludes today at Lenexpo. Welcoming specialists from throughout the federation, the forum is an opportunity for dentists to share tricks of the trade and peruse the most recent innovations in technology and equipment, with over 100 companies hocking their wares at the event.



Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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