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Petrol stations may dispense compressed natural gas

By Tan Hui Leng, TODAY
19 July 2007

The first one, on Jurong Island, cost $2.6 million to build.

The second station, coming up next year on the mainland, is likely to cost much more.

But the refuelling infrastructure for compressed natural gas (CNG) might not have to be built from scratch — and cost so much — if the government can eventually strike a deal with petroleum companies here.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has been exploring with petrol stations the possibility of dispensing CNG at service stations, Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim told Parliament.

These include Singapore Petroleum Company, Caltex and Shell.

"The oil companies are still considering the idea of installing CNG dispensers in their service stations," said the NEA, which has been in talks with the companies since 2002.

These efforts are in addition to the government's co-funding support for private sector initiatives to build new CNG refuelling stations.

The NEA's Innovation for Environmental Sustainability Fund has helped to co-fund the start-up costs of the Jurong Island outlet, the only CNG station in Singapore so far.

Two more stations are to be operational next year, also with the help of government funding. Smart Automobile is setting up a station at Mandai by January and another at Serangoon North by the end of 2008. Earlier cost estimates of the Mandai Link station range from $8 million to $12 million, which includes the cost of the land.

If CNG refuelling facilities can be incorporated into existing petrol stations, the cost to car owners of going green could be further lowered.

Currently, the green vehicle rebate, introduced in 2001 to lower the cost differential between green vehicles and conventional vehicles, gives motorists a 40-per-cent discount on the additional registration fee up till 2009.

As of end May this year, there are 339 CNG vehicles on the road.

"I hope that moving forward, more Singaporeans will opt for CNG or other green vehicles," said Dr Yaacob, who was responding to a parliamentary question.

"As more CNG vehicles come onto the road, the demand for refuelling stations will grow and this in turn will encourage the private sector to provide such infrastructure."

CNG vehicles are environmentally friendly as they produce 76 per cent less carbon monoxide and about 99 per cent less of the cancer-causing chemical benzene than diesel-powered vehicles. - TODAY/ra

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