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Scrutiny
  
Gas them all, we say!
The lethargy to move to alternative fuel seems almost insane...
10/07/2008

In Japan, while Honda rolled out its first hydrogen powered car, another Japanese company, Genepax, has gone one step ahead in making a prototype which runs on water by extracting the hydrogen for fuelling the engine. This should be seen in the background that hell-raisers (economists, if we may) now claim that the price of oil could even touch $200 per barrel in months to come. And though it might be too early to prefigure the shape of things, one thing is for sure, that the short journey to a new world where the need to plead and live with a prayer for oil price to come down, has already begun.

Yet, the real question is whether the energy problem is really so grave or is it simply a result of inertia of developing countries to strive for alternatives. And especially so in developing economies like, say, India. A report by the Global Environment Facility of the UNDP on India’s Coal Bed Methane (CBM) extraction potential states, “It is estimated that in India, the largest coal producer in the world, there are around 20,000 sq km of area where CBM capture could be carried out and that the country’s recoverable reserves of methane are 800 billion cubic metres, with a gas production potential of 105 million cubic metres a day over 20 years.” Compare this with Saudi Arabia’s daily production of oil which stands at 9.5 million barrel per day.
The reality is that many underdeveloped and developing nations have similar sources of alternative energy; yet, fail to see the potential. If most of the major metropolitan cities turn to CNG as the standard fuel for all public transport systems and private vehicles, it would reduce the oil demand significantly. While billions of dollars are being spent in most nations for construction of highways, a fraction of similar investments for the creation of mass rapid railroad transport system running on gas (not gasoline, but hydrogen based gas) would not just drastically reduce the need for fuel oil, but would also help in creating a cleaner environment. Reports state that India’s natural gas production is slated to touch nearly 170 million standard cubic metres per day by 2011-12. So, when natural gas and CBM can run power plants and vehicles, when an Iran or Russia based pipeline can meet the rest of the demand, why is such a price rise paranoia?

As the oil reserves near depletion in Middle East, the price of the same can only go up. A war between Israel and Iran might never happen but the fear factor of the same would continue to push the price northward. It’s time to exit this game theory of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the US (which perhaps benefits the most as the more the price of oil rises, more becomes the demand of dollar to buy the same). Let’s hope that the day gas becomes the preferred fuel is not far. And what would be proof of that? That’s easy. That would be the day an exemplary American President bombs a state called Bihar in India and claims he did it for saving the world from weapons of ‘gas’ destruction.

By:- Pathikrit Payne
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