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Cabinet to consider CNG master plan
This country’s fuel subsidy was $4.4 billion last year and Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine says CNG is key in bringing about a reduction. The minister, who spoke at the opening of T&T’s first CNG filling station in 20 years, said $0.7 billion of the subsidy was met through levies on oil companies, leaving the Government with a bill of $3.7 billion. He said 52 per cent goes to the subsidisation of diesel, while 41 per cent goes to the subsidisation of super gas.
As a result, Ramnarine said, the Government is moving ahead with the opening of more CNG filling stations in a bid to effect a culture change away from liquid fuels. He said CNG is safer, cheaper and cleaner and one of the historic problems with it, the filling time, has been considerably reduced since a tank can now be filled in under four minutes. He said the ministry has also increased its vigilance in terms of regulation of the energy sector. “Shortly, we will be taking to Cabinet new licences for the retail and wholesale of fuels. In this regard, the Ministry consulted with NP and Unipet.”
Ramnarine said CNG is used in bus fleets in Argentina and the United States. He said the local motoring public wants to see service stations established before they can be convinced to convert to CNG. He said the opening of Unipet’s new $30 million filling station brings to ten the total number of CNG stations operating in T&T. He said another CNG station will soon open in Tacarigua. Ramnarine said for the past four months the Ministries of Energy and Finance have been refining a CNG master plan which will go before Cabinet shortly. The new Unipet station, the largest service station in the Caribbean, is located at Brentwood, Chaguanas.
Afraz Ali, chairman of Unipet, said the company estimates that 5,000 vehicles need to be converted to CNG annually in order for gas station owners to recover their investment in dual-fuels dispensing facilities. “We are aware the Government has put in place a number of incentives to facilitate this but we submit that the impact of those incentives needs to be reviewed,” he said. Ali said the Brentwood station provides easy access to the highway and contains 24 filling points. He said when Unipet entered the market 13 years ago, service stations were old and antiquated and in a short period the company had “catalysed the transformation of the industry.”
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