By Bernard Musyck*
Go to www.mylpg.eu and you will see that Cyprus is the only country in Europe where LPG fuel for cars is not available.
Almost a decade ago, I had read in the local press that the government of Cyprus wanted to remedy this situation and add Cyprus to the long list of countries where LPG fuel is available. I was excited because I had grown up in Belgium where LPG fuel has been used in cars for about half a century. I remember that it being the popular choice of many motorists, especially during the oil crisis when fuel prices skyrocketed.
Back in Cyprus, many more years and press articles followed but there was still no LPG at my local petrol station. After years of procrastination, the Council of Ministers finally approved the relevant legislation in March 2016 and I purchased a used car in Belgium which could run LPG and petrol.
Unfortunately to this day, I am still looking for LPG fuel!
After all these years, I find it unbelievable that the relevant authorities have not been able to provide the right framework to allow and promote the use of LPG in Cyprus. Compared to petrol and diesel, LPG is an environmentally friendlier fuel. The consumer has everything to gain from using LPG since it is sold at a significantly cheaper price than petrol (in Europe, prices per litre range between 30 and 70 cents). Compared to the price tag of electric cars, equipping an existing car with LPG only costs about 1000 EUR, an investment that can be easily and quickly recuperated.
In recent weeks, the government has inaugurated several charging stations for electric cars. Whilst there are currently no more than 50 electric cars circulating in Cyprus, the relevant infrastructure is already in place. Users of electric cars are left with the illusion that their “zero-emission” vehicles are environmentally friendly; yet, as of today, electricity in Cyprus contains loads of CO2 from burning heavy mazout at the Vassiliko plant.
So where is the LPG? Why is it not yet sold at petrol stations in Cyprus? Did the government introduce a legislative framework that does not offer sufficient incentives to the local fuel distribution companies to start offering LPG? Are the fuel distribution companies engaged in a cartel agreement to restrict the use of LPG? This story remains a mystery and the situation drags on. It echoes the repeated promises of three past presidents of the Republic concerning the use of natural gas at Vassiliko to reduce our greenhouse gases.
The LPG saga is another missed opportunity for Cyprus to reduce its carbon footprint; thousands of potential LPG users lose out every day because those in charge of regulating this new situation have not done their homework.
Still wondering why Cyprus is the only country missing on that map?
(*) Bernard Musyck is an associate professor at the Frederick University and teaches innovation policies and regional development.