Saturday, June 7, 2008

Petronas NGV to build 200 more stations

KUALA LUMPUR: Petronas, through its subsidiary, Petronas NGV Sdn Bhd, plans to open another 200 petrol stations, including several dedicated kiosks, to supply natural gas for vehicles (NGV) by year-end. At present, there is only one dedicated NGV station located in Kampung Baru here.

"We plan to open another 200 kiosks, a mix between dedicated stations and NGV pumps installed at Petronas' existing petrol stations this year," a Petronas spokesman said.

Currently, there are 39 Petronas stations equipped with facilities to retail NGV. Petronas NGV is being entrusted with the job of promoting the use of natural gas as a cleaner fuel for the transportation sector.

Apart from providing facilities to retail NGV at the service stations, Petronas NGV also launched Enviro 2000, NGV taxis. Demand for NGV is said to be increasing among car users, especially with the recent increase in the price of petrol and diesel.

To my surprise, NGV is sold at RM6.40/million BTU, but the cost is actually RM27.7/million BTU!! Now, why would the govt want to promote to the rakyat something that they subsidise even more (around 75%) than petrol and diesel?! If more and more ppl start converting to NGV, sooner or later the subisidies will come to billions of RM and surely the govt will want to cut it down just like they've done with petrol and diesel?

The price of petrol and diesel increased by 78 sen and RM1 per litre respectively from Thursday while the price of natural gas remained unchanged.

Malaysia NGV Sdn Bhd will increase the number of fueling stations selling natural gas to widen its usage and as an alternative to diesel, according to its executive director, Ismail Ahmad. The company plans to build at least 100 special service stations selling natural gas throughout the country and work with gasoline stations to have at least one natural gas pump on their premises. Currently there are 39 natural gas stations on the Malaysian peninsula. The initial target is vehicles in public transportation: taxis, buses and trucks.

The new stations will offer:
• New natural gas pumps that will fill vehicles within two minutes rather than the current 30 minutes
• Workshops to repair natural gas equipment
• Showrooms displaying converted natural gas cars

NGV- natural gas vehicle conversion.

Full kit plus installation RM2,300 NGV RM0.68 sen per liter (Petronas stations only)1 tank 12 liter capacity.
Usage 130km to 160km
Require inspection by Puspakom.

Call for riding instead of driving to reduce pollution - 'Spanish Way'

Petronas’ profits do not go directly to petrol and diesel subsidies but to a government fund that is disbursed for development projects and various types of subsidies. Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Samad said Petronas’ direct subsidy was only for gas used by power producers to generate electricity.

He was explaining the link between Petronas’ earnings and fuel pump prices following the government’s move to raise the price of petrol by 41 per cent and diesel by 63 per cent last Wednesday. The issue of cutting fuel subsidies has always drawn negative reactions about Petronas from the public and Opposition parties, who question why Petronas’ profits cannot be used to subsidise pump prices.

“Except for gas, Petronas’ profits are given to the government, which puts them in a consolidated fund from where they are used for various types of subsidies, including subsidising the oil price for consumers, for agriculture, padi planters, on education, welfare, food and others. Subsidies for these things come from, among various other sources, Petronas’ income,” Shahrir told reporters yesterday after launching the Companies’ Commission Annual Report 2007.

He said the petrol and diesel subsidy was paid to oil companies from government revenue. While Petronas could highlight the importance of lifting fuel subsidies completely for the country’s future, it was ultimately the government’s decision to do so, he said.

Petronas president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Marican said at the 13th Asia Oil and Gas Conference on Monday that removing energy subsidies was a “matter of survival” for future generations, and not simply about saving costs.

Shahrir said the government had to perform a balancing act between the amount of subsidies to retain and ensuring that the people did not waste them.

“With subsidies, the price of our assets and resources will not be valuated at their true value. We have to balance – helping the people face higher cost of living while ensuring that our country’s resources are not depleted. Subsidies will never be 100 per cent but neither will they ever be lifted fully,” he said, reiterating that Malaysia’s oil reserves were estimated to last till 2014, after which the country would be a net oil importer.

Shahrir said the government would hold monthly reviews of the pump price of petrol and diesel according to the market price and make decisions accordingly.

Malaysia to decide road toll cuts

Malaysia will decide on a reduction in toll rates in August after a government-appointed committee completes its review of all highway concessions, the Malay-language newspaper Berita Minggu reported on Sunday. The move to consider a cut in toll rates comes after the government raised fuel prices by as much as 63 percent last week, fuelling discontent among Malaysians.

The government has started discussions with toll road concessionaires to evaluate all toll rates, including the possibility of cutting them. "We cannot make a decision now because the special committee is still studying and discussion with the toll road concessionaires in this country," Zin said.

He added the study, which would take three months, will look into traffic volumes, agreement clauses and concession periods to evaluate how much more toll road operators have to fork out to pay back loans and operating costs.

Under toll concession agreements that critics say favour operators, the government has to reimburse operators if traffic volumes and revenues fall short of pre-agreed projections.

Malaysia has 22 toll road concessionaires. The country's biggest toll road operator is state-controlled PLUS Expressways , which operates the highway that runs through the entire length of the Malaysian peninsula.

Most of the highways were approved in the 1990s by the administration of then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, which made privatisation and mega-projects one of its hallmarks.

Measures To Ease Burden

The Government will announce details on four swift measures early next week that would ease the burden on consumers as a result of the increase in fuel prices and electricity tariffs.

In a meeting with senior editors here, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the four entailed cost-saving measures by government departments and agencies, expanding the social safety net for people in the lower income bracket and underprivileged groups like single mothers and the handicapped, enlarging the list of controlled items to keep costs down, and improving public transport such as putting more buses on the roads.

Abdullah said raising fuel prices and electricity tariffs was not something that the government liked to do but it had to bite the bullet now to prepare for the long-term benefit of the nation.

He added that government officials, entrusted with working out the details, would be working over the weekend so that these could be announced early next week.

Elaborating on the measures, he said the Government’s cost-cutting measures would include reducing overseas travel and the number of officials involved.

He said the savings derived from the cost cutting at government departments and agencies would be used in other areas to benefit the people.

As for expanding the social safety net, he said this would mean enlarging the threshold to cover more people who were in the lower income and underprivileged groups.

Abdullah said with the Government recognising the likelihood of increased food prices, the number of essential items on the price control list would be expanded to keep costs down.

Abdullah said that there were other areas that the Government was looking at.

He also announced the establishment of a National Inflation Council comprising members from both the government and private sectors. It would hold its first meeting on Monday.

He said if the Government did not reduce the fuel subsidies, it would have meant that it would have to spend about RM28bil this year.

This was an unwise thing to do if one were to take into account its annual revenue of about RM154bil, he said.

Abdullah said the Government had been successful in bringing its budget deficit to 3.2% from 5.5% in 2000 but if it continued with the fuel subsidies, then its budget deficit could rise to between 6% and 10%.

Having such a high budget deficit would have a negative impact on Malaysia’s sovereign ratings although the Government did not always go to the money market to borrow, he explained.

However, rating downgrades by rating agencies would indirectly impact on the borrowings undertaken by Malaysian companies and this meant that they would have to pay more, he added.

Referring to suggestions by some quarters that the Government should use its funds to pump prime the current economy, Abdullah said it would not be a sensible thing to do at present.

He said that if there were to be a major global economic crisis or recession and Malaysia had used up a huge chunk of its funds just for fuel subsidies, then it would seem that the country had played its last card. – Bernama

Surge in demand to fit NGV kit

With fuel prices going up, more people are switching to natural gas, a cheaper way to get their vehicles running.

Taxi driver Rosli Omar said he used petrol for all his previous taxis but was getting his new one fitted with a natural gas vehicle (NGV) kit.

The price of natural gas remains at 68sen a litre.

“I hope the Government will consider making it compulsory for national cars to be fitted with NGV so that people do not have to get it installed on their own.”

He said the Government should increase the number of petrol stations selling natural gas to encourage more people to use it.

Lawyer Norman Fernandez said he was considering fixing the kit as it saved a lot of money in the long term.

“I was put off by the huge tank that will take up a lot of space in my car but with the rise in petrol price, I am considering it,” he said.

NGV installation workshops are experiencing good business and operators had to work additional shifts to cope.

Suria Professional Service Centre Sdn Bhd managing director Sharida Abd Samad said 20 vehicle owners had installed the kit on Thursday, a day after the higher fuel prices came into effect.

She said they usually fitted about 30 cars monthly but since the price hike, workers had to work until 2am to cope with the surge in demand.

Rush for cooking oil

Panic buying of cooking oil has started in Miri, northern Sarawak following talk that the price of this essential commodity may increase by up to 50% today.

The cooking oil rush was seen at all supermarkets and retail outlets starting from 5pm yesterday, sparked by an SMS rumour.

Just two days ago, the rush for petrol and diesel fuel caused traffic jams amid panic buying hours before the hike on Wednesday night.

However, the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry has reassured consumers that there is no official approval for the price of 1kg, 3kg and 5kg bottles of cooking oil to be increased.

“The Government has not approved any increase for these three categories. Anyone who raises the prices would be committing an offence.

Tuanku Mizan cautions against rising food prices, urges lifestyle change

Be patient and prudent in facing the possible rise in food prices resulting from the recent fuel price hike.

And if necessary, Malaysians should change their lifestyle to help reduce the impact of the price increases on them.

This was the advice given by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin in his address telecast by Radio Television Malaysia in conjunction with his birthday today.

“I acknowledge that a rise in prices puts great pressure on the livelihood of the people.

“Nevertheless, I hope that the people will exercise patience and prudence in facing the situation,” he said.

Tuanku Mizan hoped that the Government would monitor the situation and take every measure to ensure that the problem could be controlled and overcome.

“God willing, our patience and prudence will enable us to ride this problem and emerge as a more mature and resilient people,” he said.

He also said that the nation’s petroleum resources should be managed efficiently so that the wealth could be inherited and enjoyed by future generations of Malaysians.

“I was concerned when informed that by 2011, the nation’s petroleum imports would be much higher than its exports.– Bernama