THE demand for compressed natural gas (CNG) is increasing particularly in the country's transportation sector. Many buses are now run by CNG and majority of private cars have already been converted to this fuel system due to spiralling of oil price. As the import costs of petroleum products are likely to continue rising, the demand for CNG is also likely to increase in the coming days. But whether the increasing rate of its demand should be considered acceptable or not, does not seem to be the concern of all concerned.
Nowadays we see long queues of vehicles in front of almost all CNG filling stations. Filling the tank of each of the vehicles now needs at least an hour. So, when the demand for CNG vehicle is increasing, no one knows what will happen in the coming days and how long people will have to wait in the filling stations to receive fuel for their vehicles.
It is true that the trend at converting the vehicles in the CNG system is natural in view of multiple benefits from the change. It helps reduce import of high priced fuel oils. The country has to bear an extra half a billion dollar on import of high priced fuel oils in the last fiscal year. Not only this, the conversion also enables the car operators to save some 70 per cent of the fuel costs. CNG-operated motor vehicles are also environment-friendly to a greater degree than those run on fuel oils. The same then will also ease the pressure on the foreign currency reserve and improve the balance of payment situation.
So the policy makers will obviously suggest increased use of CNG as fuel. At present, it is necessary to increase the number of CNG filling stations. The number of such stations has, no doubt, increased but it does not match the increasing demand for CNG.