Despite being home to 65% of the world’s oil reserves, pressure to improve air quality and maximize crude oil revenues is driving Middle Eastern governments to implement alternative fuel schemes that dwarf many of those in oil-dependent nations.
Government and private organizations in Egypt, Iran, United Arab Emirates and other oil-rich nations are implementing programs designed to reduce consumption of gasoline and diesel with natural gas vehicles. As many as one million natural gas-powered cars, trucks and buses could be plying Middle Eastern roads by the end of this decade, according to the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles.
Eqypt already has 70,000 natural gas vehicles in operation, aiming for a target of 145,000 by 2010, while Iran, with 140,000 natural gas vehicles, is well on its way to achieving a 2010 target of 600,000 vehicles including 20,000 buses at the rate of more than 12,000 vehicles per month. Other nations in the area have also begun implementing natural gas vehicles, with several compressed natural gas (CNG) opening in the United Arab Emirates within the past year. Government officials have targeted 10,000 vehicles in Abu Dhabi alone.
Neighbouring Pakistan already has more than 1 million natural gas vehicles in operation. More than five million natural gas vehicles currently on the road worldwide. Increasing numbers in Europe, North & South America and Asia are expected to raise this to more than fifty million by 2020, according to the Association.