First CNG Station Opens in Region V

Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Chile's transport and telecommunications under-secretary Patricio Tombolini yesterday opened a compressed natural gas (CNG) service station in Villa Alemana, Region V's first such station.

Chilean fuels conglomerate Copec and natural gas distributor Energas developed the US$700,000 project, which expects to help the conversion of 1,600 vehicles in the area to CNG in a period of four years.

The use of CNG permits savings of up to 40% in comparison with the use of traditional gasoline, as well as improving performance, Copec engineering and operations manager Carlos Lonza said. In comparative terms one cubic meter of CNG is equivalent to 1.2 liters of gasoline, and costs US$0.29, while a liter of gasoline costs US$0.75.

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Energas invested US$600,000 in studies and investigations to develop this new industry, that seeks to open the market to less-polluting and more economical alternative fuels, which should have a positive effect on the regional economy and on employment, press reported.

Copec investment in CNG meanwhile has reached almost US$1mn. Energas and Copec are considering constructing a second service station in Placilla, in Valparaiso.

The use of CNG in motor vehicles began in Chile in 1988 in Punta Arenas, and was introduced in Santiago in 1996. Chile has seven CNG stations (three in Region XII, three in the metropolitan region and the one opened yesterday in Region V).