Without fixing any pricing scheme, the government has issued a circular announcing its policy on autogas, a form of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
The policy focuses on establishment of autogas refuelling station and conversion workshop, its operation and maintenance.
Autogas is the common name for LPG when it is used as a fuel in internal combustion engines in vehicles as well as in stationary applications such as generators. It is a mixture of propane and butane.
The policy has been formulated to replace CNG with autogas as the fuel for vehicles, as the reserve for natural gas is on the wane.
The recently released circular states that the refuelling station owners have to sell autogas as per the price and standard fixed by the government.
However, officials at the Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) are still in the dark about how to fix the price and standard for the gas.
Though around five million LPG cylinders are sold across the country for use in household and commercial purpose, the government is yet to fix any price for LPG.
Although there is a government fixed provision for selling cylinders bottled by the state-owned entity at Tk750 per cylinder, in reality the price is way more than that in the market.
The government circular also said that instead of octane, petrol and diesel for the vehicles, LPG gas has gained popularity across the world as an environment-friendly fuel.
The cost of using LPG in the vehicles is lower than the fossil fuel. It is also possible to save a huge amount of foreign currency by using autogas instead of conventional liquid fuel.
Stakeholders, however, have been insisting on the need for a policy to ensure the distribution of autogas and to ensure security.
The recently circulated policy reads that no person or organisation can establish any autogas refuelling station or autogas conversion workshop or take part in its operation or maintenance without the approval of the government.
The government will have the right to cancel the approval of any auto-gas refuelling station or conversion workshop if it breaks any conditions, law or regulations mentioned in the policy.
If a joint venture company is formed along with a foreign company, then the company has to complete its registration with the Board of Investment and the existing government rules and regulation regarding that will be applied in that case.
For establishing an autogas station, the distance between two gas stations on the same side of the road inside a city corporation and district town should be at least two kilometres and it should be four kilometres otherwise.
For establishing autogas station on the opposite side of the road, the distance between two gas stations inside a city corporation and district town should be at least one kilometre and it should be two kilometres otherwise.
The government, under special circumstances can relax these conditions.
Without getting approval and license from the Department of Explosives, establishment of new stations or changes or extension and addition or removal in the old establishment cannot be made.
For the approval, a station must have the license issued by the Department of Explosives along with the station plan, licence and approval from the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), the certificates and the copy of the certificates of the employed persons and the no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Fire Service and Civil Defence.
The auto-gas refuelling station has to be established within a year of getting the primary approval.
Any person or organisation will get the approval of autogas workshop if it is established within 100 metre of the bus stand and bus terminal. Besides, there are several other conditions by fulfilling which, anyone can get the permission to establish the workshop, said the policy.
“As this policy is initiated without fixing the pricing, it needs to be seen how far the policy will work out,” said Mohammed Saidul Islam, the director and CEO of LAUGFS GAS Bangladesh Limited which has eight autogas station in different place in the country.
“The matter of distance between one refuelling station and another should be withdrawn from the policy as this is the customers’ choice from where they will buy the gas,” he said.
“If the distances between the refuelling stations is far, then the customers will become the sufferers,” he added.
When asked for comments, Energy Division Secretary Nazim Uddin Chowdhury said: “Still government has not fixed the pricing formula. But that will be done very soon.”