Extra! Extra! Chavismo has a good idea!

Read all about it!!

OK, so they’re seven years late, and they’re only reviving an old PDVSA idea, but still, chavismo wants to restart the Natural Gas for Vehicles (GNV) program.

The GNV Program is brilliant any way you look at it:

  • Environmental: Natural gas is extremely clean, emitting about half the greenhouse gases associated with gasoline and close to none of the toxic gases and particulate emissions that foul up the local air. And since Natural Gas is, well, a gas, it can’t seep into the groundwater.
  • Economic: Natural Gas is outrageously cheap in Venezuela, even without government subsidies.
  • Fiscal: The more GNV PDVSA sells domestically, the fewer scarce resources it has to devote to wasteful and ecocidal gasoline subsidies and the more gasoline it can sell abroad, at much higher international prices.
  • Technological: The GNV program creates a network of local firms that specialize in converting gasoline engines to run on Natural Gas. These local firms accumulate know-how in a technology likely to be critical over the next half-century, and may have strong positive externalities.

    The only serious drawback is the high cost of converting regular gas stations to sell GNV. But much of that investment has already been made, in the mid-90s, when PDVSA established a nationwide system of GNV service stations. (The other drawback is that the damn gas tank you have to install in the trunk of your car eats up half the luggage space – but that doesn’t affect public transport, which is the main target of the program.)

    Obviously, it would have been better to keep the program running continuously. Seven years ago, Venezuela had the third largest GNV vehicle fleet in the world. Today, I imagine we’ve slipped back a few notches and fallen behind the technology curve some.

    Still, I’d assumed PDVSA was planning to let GNV die out. They’re bringing it back, and that’s great.