5 Reasons Hashi Energy’s Autogas Is A Breath Of Fresh Air In Kenya’s Otherwise Staid Petroleum Industry
There is no denying that the oil industry on a global scale is one of massive revenues and huge socio-economic implications across the board. Its the very reason why countries like Nigeria and Saudi Arabia are basically able to generate most of their revenues from producing ‘black gold’ and also is the underlying reason for many wars in the past. That being said, we are also seeing a major transformation in our sources of energy globally by the arrival of renewable energy sources at scale that are less damaging to the environment and are (finally?) starting to have a major impact on the world’s oil industry. Ultimately, it goes without saying that we are feeling the impact of global climate change and most people and industries are becoming acutely aware of the need for more environmentally responsible energy use.
Kenya’s oil industry over the past decade or so has seen massive changes thanks to changes in regulations that have ushered in a massive number of industry players at all levels. At the same time, we have seen the exit of major multinationals over the years who have been directly or indirectly replaced by regional and indigenous businesses to fill the gap. One of these companies is Hashi Energy which from my perspective has grown by leaps and bounds from fairly humble beginnings. In particular, Hashi Energy which was previously more of an oil trading company largely confined to Kenya and its environs has grown to become a multifaceted Pan-African player with a fast expanding retail presence. In particular the reason I am writing about them is due to their innovative Autogas offering which has been on a roadshow at various malls in Kenya over the last few weeks.
I was at the Junction Mall yesterday afternoon and happened upon Hashi Energy’s Autogas demonstration area and car. In a nutshell, Autogas is a potentially disruptive idea for Kenya’s rather staid petroleum industry. Autogas is an alternative fuel for motor vehicles that uses standard liquified petroleum gas (or LPG for short) that most homes use for cooking. Autogas is radical in that it essentially turns any motor vehicle into a hybrid car being able to use both regular petroleum and LPG as fuel sources. This has never been done in Kenya before even though there are over 20 million cars globally that use LPG for fuel. Autogas is the brainchild of Rufus Mbiyu at Hashi Energy who encountered the technology almost a decade ago in Thailand and thought to himself ‘why not launch the same in Kenya’. Rufus partnered with Hashi Energy to bring Autogas to Kenya and even worked with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to develop a certification standard that is now in place.
According to Rufus, the plan is to bring Autogas to market in Kenya in the course of 2014 as they are just in the process of working out the final logistical considerations. At the same time, I had an in-depth discussion with Rufus on the major advantages of using Autogas over petroleum and here are the 5 main reasons its worth considering, for you and me:
- Autogas is cheaper than petrol – Autogas which is LPG is cheaper than petrol. However, although LPG is normally sold by the kilo in Kenya Autogas will be sold by the litre at Hashi Energy’s petrol stations (and other partners) in due course. Autogas will deliver around 9KM to the litre whereas petroleum delivers around 10KM to the litre. This translates into approximately Kes. 15.00 to Kes. 20.00 less per litre on the road compared to petrol. So, basically, you will get more bang for your shilling over time which is a major incentive for adoption.
- Autogas burns cleaner (and leaner) than petroleum which is better for your engine and the environment – Autogas being LPG based is actually a lot cleaner to burn than petroleum. This means that it actually delivers better performance whilst being less damaging not only to your engine but also the environment. To sum it up, Autogas reduces your carbon footprint significantly and lowers the cost of maintaining your car. Where do I sign-up?
- Autogas is relatively inexpensive to install – The cost of installing Autogas to your car is approximately Kes. 75,000.00 and it takes around 2 days to do so. Autogas is retrofitted to cars meaning you do not have to go through the expense of buying a brand new car to use it, as is often the case with many advanced hybrid vehicles. Retrofitting Autogas involves putting in a new LPG tank and also cabling in other comments like safety valves and a vaporiser to make it work.
- Autogas extends the effective driving range of your car(s) – Once Autogas is installed it effectively means you double the driving range of your car. This means that with a 30KG Autogas LPG tank you get an additional range of 260KM to 300KM which supplements what your petrol tank would normally give you with very little compromise on overall engine performance. This alone makes a lot of sense for people who need to travel long distances from time to time.
- Autogas is safe. Really safe! – I had some reservations around how safe Autogas could be given that its LPG which is highly flammable and can be dangerous in the wrong circumstances. However, I was assured by Rufus that its really very safe given that the Autogas LPG fuel tank is designed to be very durable with a 3mm carbon steel casing. In addition, Autogas is designed so that it has multiple solenoid cut-offs which are designed to disable the system if there are any gas leaks.
So. There you have it. The big questions going forward though are whether or not Autogas, which as far as I am concerned is probably the most exciting thing to happen to Kenya’s petroleum industry in decades will catch on? Will we consider investing close to Kes. 80,000.00 to retrofit this system to our cars so as to get better fuel performance, reduce our carbon footprints and save money in the process? Will there be an adequately developed network of fuel & service points nationwide for Autogas to make it as ubiquitous as it needs to be? In my opinion, these are just but some of the key considerations to make Autogas really take off in Kenya. However, whatever the case, I am sufficiently jazzed by the arrival of a viable and readily available cost-effective and environmentally friendly fuel for my car in the form of Autogas to give it a go. Bring it on!