Today, our activity in this area is to study the market, select partners, cooperate with all authorities both local and at the EU level, as well as exchange technologies and expertise. For many this can be a revelation, yet in the past the Soviet Union had leading positions in the world in the development of technologies for the use of methane as motor fuel. Let us recall that the world’s first aircraft that used liquefied natural gas as fuel was the TU-155, while the first methane liquefaction plant in Europe was built in Moscow in the 1950s.
Since 2012 Promgas is involved in investigation of the CNG and LNG market in Italy. Promgas is investigating opportunities of expanding Italian CNG/LNG infrastructure together with local partners. The ultimate goal is to bridge the East-West as well as South-North European transport corridors to provide continuous possibility for all modes of transport to get filled with methane all along their way.
In order to promote the usage of methane on transport every year Gazprom, together with its partners in Europe (German E.ON being co-organizer) runs the Blue Corridor OEM NGV Rally (www.bluecorridor.org).
In 2012 some 15 cars, buses and trucks were parading across Europe, setting off from Moscow and making brief stays in the cities of Orsha, Minsk, Brest, Warsaw, Ostrava, Prague, Mannheim, Paris, Brussels, Essen, Berlin and Poznan. Along the 7,000 kilometer-long route, the rally organizers held a number of round table discussions, where rally participants and invited experts demonstrated to the public why methane is the most abundant, clean, safe and affordable transportation fuel.
The flagship event was held in Brussels on September 17 with European Union officials participating in an open and proactive discussion of the benefits of NGVs. The roundtable and the exhibition event held at Brussels’ iconic Autoworld museum hosted over 110 guests in attendance, including Gazprom and E.ON top management, representatives of the European Commission, and the leaders of Natural Gas Vehicles Association (NGVA) Europe and NGV Russia.
All speakers pointed out the challenges for NGVs, such as the infrastructure deficit with not enough filling stations so far in EU. Heinrich Hick from the office of the European Energy Commissioner Oettinger pointed out that the benefits natural gas offers would help Europe meet the emissions targets set out in EU’s 2050 Energy Roadmap. Director from DG Move Olivier Onidi noted that natural gas is definitely among the future fuels for transport in Europe and that gas filling infrastructure will also be considered in the new call for proposals of EU energy infrastructure projects. Participants also noted that the perception is still that electricity (e-mobility) is a cleaner technology than gas — although that is mostly due to better PR spinning campaign.
Gazprom export presented the results of NGV development in Russia and corporate goals on the European NGV market. Gazprom is fully committed to continue secure supplies of Europe with whatever gas amount is necessary to further promote the use of gas both in road transport and shipping.
The synergy of natural gas with biomethane and other renewables as practical transportation fuel is not less worth emphasizing at all levels. Gas industry, for its part, should keep on pioneering the development of on- and off-grid natural gas filling infrastructure, and provide supportive policy to get positive response from businesses. And from the side of vehicle manufacturers, more positive engagement policy is expected. Expanding the range of factory-built NGVs in order to meet more stringent and extensive environmental regulations, granting them deserved promotion status, and offering high-quality technical support to customers will bring additional impulse to the all industries involved.
Blue Corridor rally, hopefully, has inspired European industries and citizens, demonstrating that running on gas is convenient, cost effective and environmentally beneficial, and encouraging more and more NGV users to travel on the clean and cheap blue fuel throughout Europe.
In 2013 Gazprom and E.ON will organize new OEM NGV Rally ‘Blue Corridor-2013: Hansa’. The name of the Rally shows that part of the route will follow the medieval trade way ‘Hansa’. NGVs will start on October 3, 2013 in Saint Petersburg around the Baltic Sea via Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The Rally will reach home port in Saint Petersburg on October 19.
This year Promgas with NGV Italy plans to bring several NGVs from Italy to demonstrate the diversity of Italian made NGVs in the upper parts of Europe which are dominated mostly by German makes of methane powered vehicles.
If Italian colleagues are interested, in 2014 Blue Corridor may hit southern Europe.