Despite law, Cypriot motorists still excluded from using LPG

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By Stelios Orphanides

Almost six months after the parliament passed a law allowing vehicles to operate on liquid petroleum gas, it is still impossible to buy this type of otherwise cheaper and environmentally friendlier fuel, a stakeholder said.

“Although they knew that this fuel was going to be allowed, they haven’t prepared the required infrastructure,” said Philippos Kollitsis, managing director of EuropeGas Cyprus Ltd, a Nicosia-based company which converts petrol engines to LPG and trains mechanics to do the same.

Kollitsis, who was commenting in a telephone interview on Tuesday, said that he was suspecting foul play from market participants who abuse their dominant position “with the government’s blessing”.

“The government has set up a station for electric cars to refuel in Nicosia free of charge,” he said. “Why didn’t they do the same with LPG cars even if their drivers had to pay for the fuel?”

According to fuel-prices-europe.info, a website which provides information on fuel prices in countries in Europe and the Mediterranean, the price of a litre of LPG is in most countries monitored, a fraction of that of petrol. In Greece, consumers have to pay today €1.369 to by one litre of petrol RON95 compared to €0.655 to buy the same quantity of LPG. In Germany, the price of petrol is €1.319 per litre while that of LPG is €0.539.

While Cypriots only have to pay €1.133 per litre to buy petrol –which makes it the 11th cheapest European Union country–, they could still save up to 70 per cent in fuel and reduce emissions to roughly one third, Kollitsis said.

“The cost for the conversion ranges depending on the type of engine between €900 and €3,000,” he said. “Most cars used in Cyprus could undergo a conversion with up to €1,200, and their owners could recover the cost in a year by driving 10,000 kilometres”.

A government official who insisted on anonymity citing the lack of authorisation to discuss the matter with the press, said that petrol companies have already imported equipment for LPG pumps which they can use at petrol stations “once they are built”.

Already, “some building permits have been issued,” the source said adding that fuel companies will not require extensive investment in additional infrastructure to supply the fuel stations with LPG.

The chairman of the petrol station owners’ association, Stephanos Stephanou, said that it is a matter of time for LPG to be sold at petrol stations.

“The legislation on the technical specifications came into force just two months ago,” he said adding that it will be up to the fuel importing companies to decide which petrol stations will be equipped with LPG pumps, which cost up to €100,000.

None of the four fuel companies operating in Cyprus, Petrolina, Esso, EKO and Lukoil were immediately available to comment.

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