Cummins India Limited (CIL) now has an exclusive license to manufacture, sell, and service Cummins Wesport’s B Gas International (BGI) natural gas engines throughout India for a period of six years. Manufacturing is scheduled to begin in mid-2005. (Earlier post on CWI CNG engines for the Philippines.)
Last October, India’s government announced an Auto Fuel Policy that requires all new vehicles in 11 of the worst-polluted cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Ahmedabad meet Euro-III emissions standards from April 2005 and Euro-IV standards from April 2010. These cities represent the majority of India’s bus market, which averages approximately 25,000 new buses per year.
Air quality in Delhi has improved significantly since a Supreme Court order mandating its bus fleets to convert to run on cleaner-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) came into effect in 2002. More cities are expected to follow Delhi in adopting natural gas as a vehicle fuel.
India is the third largest global market for natural gas buses after China and the USA but has high import tariffs. Local manufacturing of our lean-burn, spark-ignited BGI engine by CIL is key to our growth in India,” said Hugh Foden, President of Cummins Westport Inc.
CIL Chairman & Joint Managing Director, Anant Talaulicar said, “The market is set to grow with the increased availability of natural gas resources in India and the environmental concerns this technology addresses. We hope to offer the product to markets outside India in the future.”
There are over 50,000 transit buses in the ten major cities of India. Thus far, New Delhi and Mumbai are leading the way in the conversion to natural gas. In New Delhi, over 8,000 buses fueled with natural gas use IMPCO products. In Mumbai 100 buses have thus far been introduced by the state owned transit company using IMPCO products. The eight remaining cities are in the process of initiating conversion.
Sounds like a good market for the CNG engine vendors. However, the longer-term natural gas situation in India is not that great. Here are some excerpts from the DOE’s Energy Information Administration Country Analysis Brief on India:
Indian consumption of natural gas has risen faster than any other fuel in recent years. Even with [the discovery of major] new reserves, India’s domestic natural gas supply is not likely to keep pace with demand, and the country will have to import much of its natural gas, either via pipeline or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Problems with financing LNG import projects have dimmed some of the previous prospects for explosive growth in natural gas consumption in India, and helped to revive interest in pipeline import options. Financial problems in the power sector, the main consumer of natural gas, also have had a negative effect.
A key alternative to LNG may be the long-proposed Iran–Indian Natural Gas Pipeline. This would connect India with the huge Iranian gas reserves (second-largest in the world behind Russia’s). The catch: it would either have to go through Pakistan, or underwater.
All that by way of pointing out that purchasing new or converting to CNG is a good, quick solution from a vehicle emissions point of view, but it still leaves unresolved the longer-term supply issues—issues that the US will face as well.