What is LPG?

LPG stands for Liquefied Petroleum Gas it is a mixture of hydrocarbons (mainly propane and butane). LPG is colourless, odourless and heavier than air. A sulphur based chemical (ethylmercaptan) is added to give a smell, so that even a small leak can be easily detected. LPG is a gas at normal pressures and temperatures, but changes to a liquefied state at moderate pressures (approx.. 800 kPa or 120 Psi) or reduced temperatures. When allowed to revert to vapour it expands 270 times its liquid volume. LPG auto gas burns readily with air and has a similar energy content to petrol, which makes it an excellent fuel for automotive use .LPG auto gas is burnt as a dry gaseous vapour, it is non-corrosive and free of lead. LPG auto gas specification is governed by the National Fuels Quality Standards Act 2000 and the Auto gas Determination 2003.

LPG auto gas can be obtained by 2 different methods;

Most commonly it is extracted directly from natural gas or crude oil. Almost 80% of Australian LPG is produced from this process and includes places such as Bass Strait (VIC), Cooper Basin (SA), Kwinana (WA), North West Shelf (WA) and Surat Basin (QLD). LPG can also be obtained as a by-product of the petroleum refining process which accounts for the remaining 20% of supply. There are 7 local refineries – Mobil Altona (VIC), BP Bulwer Island (QLD), Shell Clyde (NSW), Shell Geelong (VIC), Caltex Kurnell (NSW), BP Kwinana (WA) and Caltex Lytton (QLD).

Australia has a plentiful supply of LPG and is a net exporter of LPG. In 2008 Australia produced 3.1 million tonnes of LPG and consumed 1.9 million tonnes. 65% of LPG consumed in Australia is used in the automotive application, across 650,000 cars and light commercial vehicles. Australia’s production of LPG is projected to grow to 5 million tonnes by 2020.

Why is LPG Auto gas cheaper than Petrol?

LPG Auto gas is a lower excise tax in Australia. LPG Auto gas can be up to 70% cheaper than unleaded petrol. Retail LPG Auto gas prices move in a similar manner to petrol prices. Price fluctuation reflects the highly competitive nature of the industry. With propane and butane used extensively in Europe and the USA for cooking and heating demand and prices tend to rise over the Northern Hemisphere winter (November – February). The average annual auto gas pricing will typically be over 60 cents per litre cheaper than unleaded petrol.

LPG Auto gas costs more in the country than the city and this is primarily due to the costs incurred when transporting from the coastal terminals to outlets in regional inland areas. In addition, smaller volumes are transported to the regional areas less frequently, so a higher premium is charged for the service which is reflected in a higher cents per litre.

Where is LPG Auto gas available?

Australia’s auto gas infrastructure has grown a great deal over recent years. There are now more than 3200 outlets across Australia and nearly half are filling stations located in regional or rural areas. On the Pacific Highway from Brisbane to Sydney there are 109 LPG Auto gas outlets. The average is one per 9 km. The furthest distance between filling stations is 72 km.

Detailed locations can be found at www.lpgautogas.com.au and on many fuel company websites. Major LPG suppliers and their service stations also have lists that can be printed out prior to planning a long trip.