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Thai NGV card program launched
NGV Network (7 Jul 2004)

Joint NGV Card Program Launch by PTT-GSB-SME Bank Offering 50,000 to 63,800 Baht Interest-Free Loans to Taxi Operators to Accelerate NGV Gear Installation, Targeting 10,000 Participants.

Dr. Prommin Lertsuridej, Minister of Energy, has presided over the signing ceremony for a joint operating agreement governing the NGV Card Program between PTT, the Government Savings Bank (GSB), and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand (SME Bank). Representing the three entities were Mr. Prasert Bunsumpun, PTT President, Mr. Goanpot Asvinvichit, GSB President & CEO, and Mr. Chotisak Asapaviriya, SME Bank President.

'Energy saving is critically important to both the public and the private sectors as world oil prices remain elevated and will continue this trend for a long time,' Minister Prommin said. 'That is why we are seeking cooperation from all parties in ensuring that the public appreciates the importance of wise energy use.'

Long-term measures to handle high oil prices consisted largely in identifying practical alternative energy forms for the Kingdom, the minister said. In addition to ethanol and biodiesel, NGV (Natural Gas Vehicle) use in public fleets, such as taxis, would dramatically cut the consumption of oil while also saving fuel expenses (the main expenditure item) for taxi fleet operators. Besides costing less than 50% of gasoline, NGV is a clean and very safe fuel, and is more friendly to the environment than other fuels. On the whole, NGV taxi drivers would realize more income while improving their health and quality of life, the minister said.

The minister was pleased that PTT, GSB, and SME Bank had volunteered to help shoulder the burdens of taxi operators by allowing them to have the necessary NGV equipment installed first and repay loans later. Both the Energy Conservation Fund and PTT would be responsible for interest payment on behalf of the taxi operators. Interested taxi operators can apply for loans now at PTT.

'The government wants to alleviate oil-price burdens of taxi drivers by promoting NGV in taxi fleets and ensuring that paybacks take a reasonably short period. For a taxi running around the clock (i.e., on both 12-hour shifts), payback should take only about a year or so,' Minister Prommin said, adding that his ministry would continuously push for wider consumption through formulating mechanisms fostering a greater demand for NGV. At the same time he had given PTT a mandate to not only promote NGV market demand expansion, but build more NGV stations as well.

Mr. Bunsumpun said the three parties were offering financial assistance for NGV equipment installation worth 50,000 to 63,800 baht (US$1,200 - $1,550) under a government policy to promote the use of natural gas in the transport sector in the face of elevated oil prices.

Two loan programs are being offered as a result of today's signing.

- Volunteering NGV Taxi Program (3,000 taxis): Under the program, PTT sponsors NGV equipment and installation costs worth 15,000 baht to each participating taxi. The remaining sum is under GSB's loan, to be repaid in cash or by monthly installment paid to the bank.

- NGV Card Program (all taxis): Under the program, PTT facilitates applications for loans from GSB and SME Bank by issuing NGV magnetic cards for participating taxis repaying loans to the banks. Each time a taxi refills its tank with NGV, it pays an additional three baht per kilogram of NGV until the loan is fully repaid (up to 24 months). Depending on the distances traveled by individual taxis, paybacks should fall between 10 and 16 months.
PTT has devised its NGV billing mechanisms through deducting money from the sum contained in the magnetic cards. In refilling with CNG, all cars need to use either of two cards: Gold Card for regular CNG prices and Silver Card for regular CNG prices plus 3 baht/kg (to repay equipment and installation costs).

The PTT President said the three parties were confident that this program would facilitate and accelerate the installation of NGV equipment in taxis and that the payback periods would be short. For example, a single-shift taxi covering 200-300 km each day would pay 170-250 baht for CNG, thereby saving 200-300 baht against using gasoline (or 60-100 baht against using LPG). In comparison, a double-shift taxi would save 400-600 baht against using 91-octane gasoline (or 120-200 baht against using LPG). Fuel prices used in this calculation were those as of July 5.

Since May 15 this year, when PTT started receiving program applications from volunteering taxis, about 1,000 taxis had signed up. For the entire program, PTT has targeted about 10,000 participating taxis.

Today PTT has 23 NGV stations in Bangkok and its perimeter, with one each in Chon Buri and Rayong provinces. The company plans a total of 50 stations by the end of this year, with 20 more to be added each year. By the end of 2008, PTT plans to have at least 120 stations.

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