Dubai’s Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) subsidiary Emirates Gas is building natural gas fuelling stations as part of wider plans in the UAE to convert public sector vehicles to be able to run on compressed natural gas (CNG).

In addition to the natural gas fuelling stations Enoc is planning a pipelines network to connect the Northern Emirates to the scheme by 2023. The total scheme will cost close to $190m.

The first tenders for this programme could be going out by the end of 2011.

“We are currently undertaking a feed [front-end engineering and design] study that is re-evaluating the technical-economic feasibility study we did to make it more accurate. This will be over by the end of this year. If things go to plan, we should be issuing the first tenders by the end of the year, as well,” said Hesham Ali Mustafa, general manager at Emirates Gas.

The first EPC contracts will be for the gas fuelling stations for the first phase, which is concludes in 2014.

Phase 1 of the scheme will build up supply from about 12,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d) at the end of this year to about 192,300 cm/d at the end of 2014, when two mother stations, 7-11 daughter stations and two online stations will have been erected.

By then, Dubai aims to have converted 100 per cent of government vehicles to run on CNG, such as taxis, light commercial vehicles and municipality trucks.

Phase two, which will commence in five years time, will connect the Northern Emirates to the CNG infrastructure, necessitating a 180 kilometres of pipelines.

The second phase will include a campaign to compel private drivers to convert their cars to CNG, with the government setting a target of 20 per cent of private cars in Dubai being converted by the end of Phase 2.

To achieve that target, another six mother stations, 19 online stations and 11 daughter stations will have to be added.

“This number could be revised, as acceptance for CNG spreads,” said Mustafa.

The change from petrol to CNG will bring significant environmental benefits, according to Emirates Gas. The conversion of a fleet of 12,000 taxis would reduces CO2 emissions by the same amount as taking 23,000 petrol-fuelled cars off the road, according to Fazal Ali Khan, CNG development manager at Emirates Gas.

Abu Dhabi has also embarked on a CNG programme, having already committed to constructing 16 CNG stations across the UAE.

The Government of Abu Dhabi expects by 2012 that 20 per cent of the public-sector vehicle fleet and taxis will be converted to run on natural gas.