Gas converter kit can be
produced locally: Minister

State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister Dahlan Iskan confirmed on Thursday that a consortium consisting of SOEs and private companies can manufacture gas converter kits for cars to support the government’s oil-to-gas campaign.

Dahlan held a closed-door meeting at state-owned aircraft maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia (DI) in Bandung involving eight SOEs and another eight private firms considered to have the capabilities to mass-produce the converter kits.

He also officially appointed PT DI as the coordinator for designing and manufacturing the converter kits. The aircraft firm was appointed as it had previously been tasked by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry to manufacture a prototype of safe gas canisters for cars in Jakarta in April 2011.

The oil-to-gas conversion campaign was launched to support the government’s plan to limit the distribution of subsidized premium gasoline, which will be carried out gradually from April this year. By converting from gasoline to gas, the government hopes to reduce the amount of fuel subsidy.

“We have come to the conclusion that domestic industries, SOEs and private firms under the leadership of PT DI, are capable of providing gas-fuel tanks and converter kits, 100 percent,” Dahlan said. “So, we do not have to import them.”

In addition to PT DI, other SOEs included steelmaker PT Krakatau Steel, arms maker PT Pindad, communication solutions provider PT INTI and manufacturing firm PT Barata Indonesia.

The process to manufacture the prototypes of both converter kit and gas canister will continue while awaiting the government’s decision to start the conversion process. Also being determined is the type of gas to use; whether Liquid Gas for Vehicles (LGV) or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

“For Indonesia, CNG offers more possibility but the industry needs more investment to make canisters for CNG or LGV,” Dahlan said.

“The equipment is virtually the same, the raw materials are also similar, but the design and manufacturing process is different.”

He estimated the conversions would begin in April or July, with an initial 300,000 sets of gas canister and converter kits being produced this year.

“Gradually, we will increase the production capacity to 1 million sets per year,” he said.

“Currently, we are still discussing the finer details, such as who will make what and so on.”

PT Pindad president director Adik Avianto Sudarsono said the price would be around Rp 12 million (US$1,308) per set, while imported ones would cost Rp 15 million each.

“If Pindad is tasked to make the gas canisters, our production capacity is ready for 1 million units per year,” he said.

Separately in Yogyakarta, researchers at Gadjah Mada University (UGM) are developing prototypes for several types of converter kits. In addition to preium gasoline, the university is preparing converters for diesel and hydrogen as well as those for motorcycles.

The head of UGM’s gas research team, Jayan Sentanuhady, said Tuesday the prototype development could support the government’s program to limit the distribution of subsidized premium gasoline.

“We started our research and development of the converter in 2009,” he said. “We have already installed a converter on a car for testing.”

A gas canister with a pressure of 200 bars has been installed on the car’s rear seat.

Jayan said in addition to anticipated fuel conversion, gas was also much more environmentally friendly than premium gasoline because of the cleaner exhaust emissions.

He also said gas usage would save between 40 percent and 45 percent compared to premium, as the price of gas is Rp 3,100 per gasoline-liter-equivalent. The subsidized premium is sold at Rp 4,500 per liter.

“We are currently standardizing the converter kit and its maintenance as well as testing the engine’s durability,” Jayan said.

“Once the kit has passed all the tests, we expect the industry to follow up so that the general public can use the converter kit.” (nvn)

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