A R10.50 per litre alternative to South Africa’s record-high petrol price

 ·10 Nov 2021

The use of natural gases could be an alternative to South Africa’s record-high petrol prices, says CNG Holdings Group, a company that specialises in compressed natural gas.

Speaking to radio station 702, CNG Holdings Group sales and marketing manager Wayne Williams said that the group built the first gas filling station in South Africa in 2014 and converted more than 1,300 mini-bus taxis to a natural gas system.

Williams said that the current pump price for natural gas is around R10.50 a litre. South Africa’s petrol price hit a record high in November, with inland 95 octane now costing motorists R19.58 per litre. Drivers using natural gas pay around R9 less per litre every time they fill up.

Compressed Natural Gas is sold in litres and has the equivalent energy of one litre of 95 octane petrol. A litre of Compressed Natural Gas produces an equivalent performance as 95 octane petrol. The consumption rate of the taxi will be the same for Compressed Natural Gas as it is for 95 octane petrol.

“In South Africa, we get our gas off the Sasol pipeline, which comes from Mozambique, and there are plans to expand that further. There are also people bringing in Liquid Natural Gas.”

He added that the gas quality in South Africa is exceptionally high, with a methane content of around 94% – significantly higher than the 80% methane gas used in Europe.

“We get a lot more bang for our buck, and we get a lot more money in terms of running their vehicles. We have four filling stations, with six filling stations around Gauteng.

“In terms of fleets, we are in the process now of converting one of South Africa’s largest security companies who are changing all their vehicles to run on natural gas. When you halve the fuel bill, you become a lot more competitive.”

Williams said that South Africa is still behind in some ways as people in Europe can order their vehicles directly off the showroom floor to accept natural gas intake. However, he said that it was possible to convert any petrol engine onto the system in South Africa.

“We convert any petrol or diesel vehicle  – the only vehicles we have problems with is are those that have a carburettor, which are typically older vehicles.”

Accelerating development 

In September 2021, energy company Sasol and the state-owned Central Energy Fund (CEF) announced a partnership to accelerate the development of gas resources in South Africa.

“At the core of achieving our strategic mandate of ensuring the security of supply is domestic job creation and an approach to the just energy transition that fosters increasing domestic value addition,” said CEF chief executive Dr Ishmael Poolo.

“In this regard, gas remains a critical component in our country’s just energy transition journey, and our continued collaboration with Sasol in unlocking growth in the gas space remains critical for us in contributing to the achievement of an optimal energy mix.”

Sasol executive VP: Energy Business, Priscillah Mabelane, said: “Sasol has had a long-standing relationship with CEF through our well-established partnership in the Republic of Mozambique Pipeline Company (ROMPCO) pipeline and looks forward to commencing this next stage of growth in gas together.”

Key focus areas will include future gas supply options and enabling infrastructure critical to sustain and grow the gas market. Both companies will explore developing multiple low-cost gas import locations around the country.

“Gas is instrumental in enabling a just energy transition in South Africa and requires immediate attention to introduce additional supply to South Africa. Currently, the country’s gas supply comes from the Pande-Temane gas fields in Mozambique, which will need to be supplemented in the long term, as these reserves begin to mature,” said Mabelane.

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