Red tape appears to be the chief reason why the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in road transport hasn’t taken off, MPs heard on Tuesday.
The use of LPG was sanctioned via ministerial decree back in March, but to date across the island only a single gas station, belonging to Staroil and located in the Tseri area, supplies the fuel, which is cheaper than petrol or diesel.
And one other gas station, operated by Total Plus in the village of Timi, Pa-phos, has recently been licensed to provide LPG.
Lawmakers heard that around 18 applications for LPG have been filed by three companies – Petrolina, EKO and Exxon Mobil – but approval is pending at the town planning department.
The delays in processing and approving the applications are attributed to bu-reaucracy and the fact that several government departments must be consulted – due to safety-related considerations – Diko MP Angelos Votsis said.
An official of the town planning department promised the House commerce committee to assess the situation with the pending applications and come back in a week’s time with answers.
According to Votsis, so far just 44 vehicles in Cyprus have secured LPG installa-tion permits from the road transport department.
With current LPG prices, it takes motorists three to four years to recover the cost of converting from petrol to LPG (diesel cars cannot be converted).
The cost of conversion is estimated at between €1,000 and €1,500.
Akel deputy Costas Costa said that, following approval from the EU, the con-sumption tax on LPG has been set at 7 cents per litre, compared to 45 cents per litre for petrol and diesel.
The Greens’ George Perdikis suggested that interest groups were thwarting the mass use of LPG.
The political decision to allow the introduction of LPG in road transport was taken in April 2012.
LPG is a blend of propane and butane, which can be produced from natural gas or as a by-product of oil refining.
LPG is about 50 per cent cheaper than conventional fuels which makes up for its lower efficiency compared to petrol and diesel-run vehicles.
Supporters claim that LPG performance is similar to driving a petrol vehicle alt-hough converting may take up precious boot space because of the need to in-stall a new tank.
In addition, LPG is considered less harmful to the car’s engine, and environ-mentalists claim that emissions are lower compared to petrol and diesel.
All the relevant legislation governing the use of LPG – such as procedures for overseeing licences for mechanics carrying out conversion – are in place.