Expanding Blue Corridor

December 17, 2014

Another (eighth) motor rally for natural gas powered vehicles, called Blue Corridor, took place in early October. Once again a motorcade of NGVs took part in a rally to back up the most eco-friendly, technologically advanced and promising type of fuel – natural gas.

It will be reminded that the Blue Corridor motor rally has taken place annually since 2008 (in 2011 there were two runs) under the auspices of Gazprom with a view to demonstrate the benefits of natural gas as a vehicle fuel and the factory equipment that runs on it. Archive photo: Blue Corridor 2011 Orenburg – Samara, October 23, 2011.

What makes natural gas so attractive? Firstly, it is 2 to 3 times cheaper than the conventional fuel, secondly, air emissions are significantly lower and, thirdly, natural gas reduces the engine wear by 35 to 45 per cent. Isn’t it an ideal vehicle fuel? This video provides more interesting facts about the NGV fuel.

It’s noteworthy that over 80 countries nowadays use natural gas as a vehicle fuel and nearly 20 million cars around the world run on it. The number continues to grow, among other things, due to our rallies.

Statistics shows that European countries – hosts of Blue Corridor, increased the number of filling stations by 40 per cent (almost 600 new stations built), doubled the natural gas demand and increased the NGV fleet by 20 per cent between 2009 and 2014.

Now we will give you more details about the Blue Corridor 2014. The motor rally was somewhat unique – its start was timed to coincide with the opening of the St. Petersburg International Gas Forum on October 7, 2014.

The ceremonial start of the motor rally was attended by Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee and Uwe Fip, Senior Vice President of E.ON Global Commodities.

Alexey Miller announced the start of the rally.

The traffic light turned green and the vehicles took off.

Russia was represented in the international rally by the combined team of German E.ON and Gazprom Export employees (Andre Schumann, Eugene Pronin, Vladimir Tatarkin),…

… the team of Gazprom Gazomotornoye Toplivo (Irina Ivanova, Alexander Nosov, Stanislav Urzhumtsev, Kirill Anufriev, Anatoly Sokolov),…

… the team of Titan Severo-Zapad (Anna Travkina, Alexander Sergeevichev)…

…and the team of Raritek on KAMAZ sports truck (Karim Zakirov, Alexander Trushkov).

Besides the Russian participants, taking part in the motor rally start was a team of Slovenian Comita (Drasak Luka, Tomaz Seher Klavora, Urban Ocvirk, Vladimir Stamenkov, Milenko Pintar). Running ahead a bit, we’ll tell you that all the team members are employed at the companies they represent. They held R&D seminars, round table discussions and conferences on natural gas use as a vehicle fuel in the cities along the rally route.

The Blue Corridor participants have a 6.5 thousand kilometer route ahead across Europe – from Baltics to Adriatic.

The rally route is planned with regard to the possibility of fueling cars at stationary CNG filling stations. The first filling station beyond the Russian border was located in Narva (Estonia). At present, there are five CNG filling stations in Estonia, while the local NGV fleet accounts for 300 cars and 17 buses.

In terms of its energy properties, one cubic meter of natural gas roughly equals one liter of gasoline, that is, gas-powered vehicles consume the same amount of fuel as conventional ones, without losing their capacity. But due to a favorable price, fuel costs are reduced twice at average. Judge it for yourselves: in Estonia compressed natural gas (CNG) costs EUR 0.77 per kilogram (EUR 0.59 per cubic meter), whereas AI-95 gasoline costs EUR 1.28 per liter. At Russian CNG filling stations CNG costs, depending on the region, from RUB 9 to 15 per cubic meter and AI-95 gasoline – some RUB 35 per liter.

From Estonia the motorcade headed to Latvia. In Riga and its vicinities only several cars and buses nowadays run on NGV fuel and the entire NGV infrastructure is represented by two monoblock garage CNG filling stations. But there are enthusiasts in the country who are ready to invest into developing this market segment. Photo: NGV exhibition in the Town Hall Square of Riga.

Actually, it was clear from the start that the gas-powered KAMAZ would become the star of the rally. The sports giant enjoyed popularity and there were crowds of volunteers wishing to sit in the driver’s seat!

In Poznan (Poland) the NGVs took part in the POLEKO environmental exhibition. Transport universities showed a keen interest in the event. The exhibition visitors were mostly represented by students – future young professionals of Polish transportation companies.

In addition, in Poland our colleagues from Gazprom Germania joined the rally. For the first time in the Blue Corridor history a completely female team took part in the rally. Maya Schneider and Lyudmila Tatarchuk covered a considerable part of the route within the motorcade.

By the way, there was another representative of the fair sex who took part in the rally from its very start – Anna Travkina from Titan Severo-Zapad. Anna drove the KAMAZ from Vilnius to Poznan in the capacity of a navigator.

Fuelling the car at a new CNG filling station in Most (Czech Republic). The filling station is situated at the premises of the local post office. In the near future the post office is planning to purchase 20 gas-powered vans for mail and cargo deliveries. This will guarantee loading the filling station to full capacity. The teams took part in the filling station opening ceremony, fueled their cars and headed towards Germany.

In Bamberg (Germany) Gazprom Germania opened a filling station purchased from another operator after its reconstruction and rebranding. This CNG filling station already has an established corporate customer – the Deutsche Bahn bus fleet servicing the city railway station. Taking part in the opening ceremony were (left to right): Andre Schumann (E.ON), Markus Buggisch (Gazprom Germania), Eugene Pronin (Gazprom Export).

At the NGV exhibition in Nurnberg (Germany) a Volkswagen Scirocco was on display. This sports car is a participant of VW Scirocco R-Cup, an unparalleled monocup race of gas-powered cars traditionally held under the auspices of Gazprom Germania.

At the Nurnberg Round Table Session it was pointed out that, according to the data of the German Energy Agency (DENA), motor vehicle emissions had grown by 40 per cent between 1990 and 2012 and continued to grow. The use of natural gas as a vehicle fuel would reduce the level of air pollution. According to DENA, transition to liquefied natural gas (LNG) would reduce noxious emissions by 10 per cent a year.

The route of 2014 Blue Corridor rally crossed incredibly beautiful European cities, …

… picturesque motor roads, …

… the Alps washed with the sun.

In Vaduz, capital of Lichtenstein the rally participants got highly interested in the local CNG filling station. The whole process equipment (three compressors, two air cooling blocks, a gas accumulator) is installed above the filling platform, which made it possible to considerably reduce the area occupied by the filling station.

The International Conference in Milan became the rally ‘equator’. The event was organized by Promgas, a subsidiary of Gazprom Export and the NGV Italy Association with the support of the Lombardy Regional Government (Italy).

On the way from Italy to Slovenia the motorcade stopped to tank up in the vicinity of Venice. They even had to wait in line – the cars came to the CNG filling station for fueling in a continuous stream. It means that this type of fuel is highly popular in Italy.

The way back passed through the South Stream project member countries. In Ljubljana (Slovenia) a round table session dedicated to the NGV market was also held. About one hundred interested participants gathered in the hall, including managers, businessmen, scientists and journalists.

In order to keep up with the activity schedule, the motorcade had to move with minor stops for refills. In some instances, there was no time at all for seeing around a new town – a commemorative photo and back on track! Stopping at a CNG filling station in Zagreb (Croatia).

Meanwhile, a mobile exhibition of South Stream arrived in Belgrade (Serbia). The vehicle drives around South Stream member countries, and events dedicated to the project implementation take place during its stops.

High environmental performance largely explains the popularity of natural gas in European countries. For example, the taxicabs of Budapest have already been converted to natural gas. The engine of this car meets the Euro-5 standard, it emits 2 to 3 times less carbon dioxide and 10 times less carbon monoxide than a similar gasoline-powered car. In addition, the smoke content in its exhaust is 9 times lower and it’s free of sulfur and lead compounds.

Once there was a necessity to use KAMAZ as a mobile gas filling station (MGFS). Refueling cars on the way from Budapest (Hungary) to Lublin (Poland).

The rally ended with a round table session in Minsk (Belarus) and the traditional exhibition of gas-powered vehicles, in which the equipment of Belarusian MAZ was also displayed. The return home was ahead!

The 2014 Blue Corridor motor rally from Baltics to Adriatic is over. It covered over 6.5 thousand kilometers across 17 countries within 23 days. Business activities were held as part of the rally in 11 countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary and Belarus. The NGV market is advancing, which means that the Blue Corridor is spreading out!

Natalia Kupriyanova, Kirill Anufriev (Gazprom Gazomotornoye Toplivo), Eugene Pronin (Gazprom Export), Vladimir Tatarkin, Gazprom website Editorial Board

You can find large-size images in Photos.