27 Jun 18

Natural gas fuels the future in Latin America

The vehicular fleet of Latin America will triple in the next 25 years, according to a recent study of UN Environment. Several South American countries are already addressing the increase of emissions with Natural Gas Vehicles.

Latin America counts more than 5 million Natural Gas Vehicles (NGV - Liquified (LNG) and Compressed (CNG) Natural Gas together), compared to less than 2 million NGVs in Europe and only 205,000 in North America (IANGV).

Stimulated by the subsidised CNG prices and conversion kits, especially in the metropolitan areas of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo (Brazil), the region saw an NGV boom from 2002-2004. Today, 10% of the total fleet of Argentina are NGVs and 2.18% in Brazil.

Due to its large natural gas production, Bolivia has the biggest share of NGVs (nearly 52%), and is the main natural gas exporter to Argentina and Brazil. Colombia and Peru are self-sufficient, and are both incentivising CNG. The total fleet of Peru counts more than 10% NGVs and Colombia counts nearly 5%. Moreover, Peru has the only liquification plant for natural gas in South America.

Ecology and Economy

A CNG driven car has lower emissions of NOx (85%), particular matter (100%), and CO2 (30% less compared to petrol, 20% to diesel, 12% to LPG), and does not emit SO2, lead, nor heavy metals. Due to the emission reductions, CNG cars are often exempted from environmental traffic restrictions, and/or taxes. Moreover, due to the lower prices of LNG and CNG, important cost reductions can be realised compared to diesel, petrol or LPG.

Fuel the Future

Today, the boom has subsided and the increase of NGV has stabilised but concerns about air pollution and climate change are giving NGV a new impulse. Recently, Bolivia set up a cooperation with Gazprom to increase its share of NGVs, and Peru will supply its major northern cities with LNG, while Colombia recently installed its 800th CNG station.

Image: traffic in Sucre, Bolivia

Authored by: Fien Van den steen