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Bangkok Post (Thailand); Non PTT stations to sell NGV soon: “Natural gas for vehicles (NGV) will soon be available…”: “Shell Thailand has asked the department for permission to sell NGV, while state-run Bangchak Petroleum Plc (BPC) said it was also considering selling the fuel.”: Thursday 18 August 2005


Natural gas for vehicles (NGV) will soon be available at the pumps of vendors other than PTT to meet what boosters of the fuel call fast growing market demand, said Viroj Klangboonkrong, director general of Department of Energy Business (DEB).


Shell Thailand has asked the department for permission to sell NGV, while state-run Bangchak Petroleum Plc (BPC) said it was also considering selling the fuel.


BPC's executive vice-president Manoon Siriwan said Bangchak was now in talks with PTT on selling NGV. If the negotiations succeed, Bangchak stations in the Bangkok area will be the first to add NGV.


Energy Minister Viset Choopiban said Shell and Esso had a keen interest in selling NGV. The more firms that retail NGV, the more motorists will be encouraged to switch, he said.


Mr Viroj said other oil companies would have a chance to sell NGV at pumps nationwide to meet growing demand, adding that PTT has been slow in expanding the NGV market as planned.


Interested oil firms would first need to negotiate with PTT, the only supplier of natural gas, about setting up equipment and infrastructure at petrol stations, as well as the NGV price.


Mr Viroj said the idea to retail NGV came from Pakistan and Iran, where private oil firms are allowed to sell NGV instead of giving a monopoly to national energy firms.


In Iran, the number of vehicles running on NGV rose from 1,000 to 14,000 in a year, he said. In Pakistan, the number of NGV-powered vehicles has risen from a few thousand to 475,000 in three years.


Pakistan is the world's third-largest user of NGV after Argentina (1.2 million vehicles) and Brazil (803,645).


In Thailand, about 5,000 vehicles use NGV. The government target is to have 180,000 units in by 2010.


More companies will open to convert vehicles to NGV. At present, 13 firms have pledged to convert their vehicles.


"As many firms as possible will be persuaded to provide the service," Mr Viroj said.


Meanwhile, oil retailers without their own refineries have called for an increase in the marketing margin of the pump prices.


"The margin is now 1% to 2% of total sales compared with 10% that operators received before the economic crisis in 1997," said one operator.


DEB deputy director general Preeyaporn Vivekkaphirat said the low margin was a result of perfect competition that successfully barred oil companies from raising their retail prices improperly or from profiteering.


She said the oil-retailing business could survive these days only from supplementary businesses such as minimarts, car care or motor oil change services, which can yield high returns.


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