OT. Fuel Prices, this forum and The Australian. and Mogul

Submitted: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 22:29
ThreadID: 58075 Views:2492 Replies:6 FollowUps:8
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Last Saturday’s Australian published a letter that will look familiar to readers of this forum. In it I argued, once again, that the fuel tax had been squandered; that current fuel prices were inevitable and foreseeable for at least the last decade and that the fuel tax should be used to put in the infrastructure for alternative fuels based on natural gas. That is, diesel made from natural gas to service long distance needs and compressed natural gas for city use. Both of these technologies are now available and cheaper than current oil based fuel. The letter has attracted quite a bit of attention with follow up letters of support and a surprising number of people who took the trouble to track me down at home to discuss and support the idea.
Mogul, are you reading this? I have passed on the site you found and posted to the forum re home compressed natural gas systems for cars, to a number of people who are also now asking why this is available in California, Germany and New Zealand, but not here.
The Australian is looking further at the technologies discussed with a view to possibly doing a feature article on them.
If interested, you might like to check the letters (not the one sentence blogs) in the Australian and contribute to the discussion. The more awareness we can make about the potential of diesel from natural gas, the better our chances of still having our hobby in 10 years time.
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Reply By: Member - David P (VIC) - Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 22:46

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 22:46
There will be no leadership from ANY govt until the issue of taxation is resolved with regard to CNG for domestic use....IMHO,
AnswerID: 306221

Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 23:05

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 23:05
Or until there is enough public knowledege of the alternatives and outrage at the lack of action. As a matter of interest, what happens if you simple install one of the units at home? They cost about $8000. After that, you just fill your car up each night. Exactly what legislation stops this? Love to see any government try to bring in new legislation to stop individuals from doing it. Honda and Ford make vehicles in the USA that do just this using a Canadian home CNG pump called a fuelmaker.
FollowupID: 572231

Reply By: V8Diesel - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 07:23

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 07:23
Mfewster, very intersesting stuff indeed. Did you post that letter here? If so, what's the post number as I'd like to read it.

Any idea roughly what price domestic natural gas would equate to a litre?

What is the 'bang for your buck' of CNG compared to LPG? ie: lets say it takes approx 25% more LPG to travel the same distance as a litre of petrol, what's the ratio for CNG?

Do you know what the legalities are of installing a home unit?

Sorry for all the questions, but you've raised some very good points and I'm keen to find out more.
AnswerID: 306240

Follow Up By: Mogul - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 07:36

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 07:36
CNG I beleive is around 12c per litre.

You will use more CNG than LPG but it still works out cheaper depending on the number of kilometers you do versus install cost's etc.

I think the main problem with CNG at the moment is the distance between refills.

Legalities are an interesting area to look at. I would say the legalities would more than likely cover the safety aspect such as ventilation, what happens if there is a fire etc.

We have our own service based business with 10 vehicles so something like this could become very attractive for us depending on the final $$$ cost.
FollowupID: 572241

Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 09:05

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 09:05
V8 The following post is not quite the same as the letter to the Australian, but close. Post 305927. You will find the letters on The Australian site.
I understand that CNG is about as efficient as lpg, but the problem is storage on the vehicle. It isn't as compressed as lpg so a tank of a size it is reasonable to fit to a domestic car wil only give about 100km-150km range. Many installations, I gather use smaller tanks and refill at home overnight. I further gather (this is all second hand) that a home outlt takes about 4 hours to fill up the tank. Check Mogul's post about the Philly, a unit you can install at home to do just this. Looks a bit like an on demand gas water heater on the wall of your garage. CNG is therefore best suited to city drivers who will just plug in again each night.

For long distance driving natural gas can also be used because it can be turned into diesel through a process that uses cobalt. A variation on the same process can make aviation fuel and I saw a report a few weeks ago that the Airbus 380 did a trial flight on this fuel. I also understand that the USDairforce are watching this process with considerable interest. Given the Oz natural gas resources and our cobalt resources (you get it from nickel mines) why aren't we working on this?????
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Reply By: Mogul - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 07:41

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 07:41
Would our current CNG infrastructure be sufficient to support home filling on a fairly broad scale?
AnswerID: 306243

Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 09:15

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 09:15
Mogul, I can't answer that. But I did notice the gas pipeline company Envestra having a moan a couple of weeks ago because they said they had put in extensive distribution networks that were being underutilized because of some quirk of government policy in Victoria. Further interesting because Envestra already pays a 12% dividend to shareholders, on the back of government contracts,......and they were moaning that they were being prevented from increasing profits further because they couldn't use their capacity!!
But that really is the point. Our fuel tax $ shouldn't be cut, they should be utilized in getting this sort of infrastructure in place.
FollowupID: 572253

Follow Up By: Charlie - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 17:03

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 17:03
A number of local councils use CNG and my local serov has a pump,if the Govt made a committ to buying CNG cars then every servo would have it on tap.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 19:42

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 19:42
That's interesting Charlie. I knew that a number of councils in different parts of Australia used CNG for large vehicles. Where are you located? Who can buy buy from your local servo with the CNG? Are any private vehicles using it? How long does it take to fill a tank at that servo?
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Reply By: Robnicko - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 09:34

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 09:34
Have a look at the business section on news.com.au.
Oil for at leest30 years and oil dropped 4% overnight. Lets see if that has an effect here.bet it wont.

Donkeys are looking good, but where do you put the fridge?

AnswerID: 306263

Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 09:56

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 09:56
The daily oil price will jump around based on weather, fears about a pipeline closing or a refinery going off line or a hurricane interrupting supply or a war threat in the production area etc. But the underlying supply/demand realities remain unchanged and can only keep pushing the prices up. A 30 year supply is next to zilch. Those reserves are increasingly in harder and harder to get at places so the cost of extracting it and the cost of trying to find more in increasingly deep wells, will continue to drive the prices of existing reserves up.
Only three things can change the equation.
1. Increase supply.
2. Decrease demand.
3. At an international level, nationalize the world's fuel supplies to control supply/demand and prices.

Of these, 1 looks to be the only possibility and using natural gas looks the best way to do that.
FollowupID: 572267

Reply By: Member - Lionel A (WA) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 08:39

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 08:39
Back in NZ during the '80s I had a holden WB ute with a stock 202 and auto. It had a 50 ltr CNG tank and had an approx range of 160 kms. Most of the larger servos supplied CNG and a fill took about 4-5 minutes.

There was a noticable difference in power between the gas and petrol, but a big difference in cost [even back then].

Tuning was important but advances in technology would have probably improved in this area.

I would definitly fit it if it were available here.

AnswerID: 306433

Follow Up By: Member - Lionel A (WA) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:09

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:09
Having said that, I cant quite recall the price of petrol back then however I do remember it took about $3.00 to fill the CNG tank.

The one thing that concerns me though is the ever increasing tendency of Govts and suppliers of fuels to quickly shove as many of their fingers in the pie as they can.

What should be a very cheap fuel will eventually end up only slightly more economical to standard fuels.

FollowupID: 572434

Reply By: Member - Chris & Debbie (QLD) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:47

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:47
Not that I can remember all the details but the home CNG units were out years ago. The problem was with taxing, and the idea went away very quickly. The problem would be that the Gov would be unable to separated home use from vehicle use, so would have to put the usual road users tax, excise etc. onto your home gas bill.
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