Saturday, September 3, 2011

butane vs gasoline

We've been struggling with this question for quite a while. I'm referring to switching to using butane to fuel our pickup truck. We love our 8 cylinder, 2000 Toyota Tundra, but it's a gas guzzler. Here in Belize gas has run up and down from $10.47bz to nearly $12 per gallon. In US dollars that's from $5.50 to $6. Ick! $200bz won't even fill the tank. We use the Trooper some, but it's not much better considering it's age. We haven't really travelled much around the country because of the expense. Between the vehicles and weedeaters we feel we're supporting the gas station on Bullet Tree Rd, all by ourselves.

A few years ago, oil was discovered here in Belize. There are several wells in Spanish Lookout, with more scattered around the country. BNE (Belize Natural Energy) seems to be quite prosperous, but we understand that most of the $$s leave the country, as the oil is processed out of Belize and the company itself is Canadian. Anyway, I digress!

A byproduct of this oil is butane gas. Now my knowledge about all this is extremely limited and I was under the impression that butane and propane weren't interchangeable, but apparently I was mistaken. Anyway, at this point, we are focusing on our immediate problem. Imported butane sells for around $4.50 - $6/ gallon, with the local butane from BNE selling for $4/gallon. We've met several folks lately who have converted their vehicles and they couldn't be happier, so off we trudged to Spanish Lookout to check out conversion possibilities. (I still find it weird that the best mechanics are Mennonites. Kind of an oxymoron to my way of thinking). Folks who've had the conversion done claimed to have spent from $1k to $1,400. Of course, when we checked it has now gone up to closer to $2k for the complete conversion, plus a 30 gallon tank as well as some butane. One consideration is that we'll probably get one or two miles per gallon less with butane. Even at that price, with butane being only $4/gallon, we can save enough in a year to pay for the conversion. It's tough to spend money on something so unexciting, but fiscal survival makes it a smart decision, so Tuesday, early, we head off for Spanish Lookout. Here's hoping we'll find ourselves among those smug, satisfied customers. Later,


Wilma said...

Keep us posted on how you fare with the conversion! Where do you fill your tank? If you travel in Belize, are there places farther away from Spanish Lookout to fill up? Or is it just swapping out a tank like you would for your stove? Good luck with it.


sandy a said...

let me know how it goes; Phil is thinking about having our truck onverted

Anonymous said...

Sound like a great idea to go from $12 a gallon to $4 and BNE seems to be making a difference in the economy but why is it limited to Spanish Lookout? The biggest consumer market is Belize City so why is'nt the savings benefiting those folks. anyway, u folks left the US to get away from politics so I won't bore you with such questions, but it sure seem relevant to ask why the benefits of Belize's butane from the oil is so limited. I drive around Belize wit the strain of almost $12 a gallon and would sure like to see a refinery for diesel and cheaper butane for all that Belizean petroleum.

Kurt Belisle said...

Aren't you jumping the gun a little here Anon? According to LoveFM the government only allows BNE 30% of the butane market so they can't supply the whole country. And with only 5,000 barrels a day how can they make any difference with a refinery? sounds like you want to put the cart before the horse. What the government needs to do is give BNE license to drill more wells so that they can find more oil.Right now Belize is benefiting from BNE by the heavy tax they pay especially at a time like this when revenues are down and businesses are are in trouble but things would be much better if they could expand their production and spill off that success with more butane, may be 50% of the market, and more barrels to make a refinery worth it.

Anonymous said...

True, and Love FM also reported that it was the oil revenue that was allowing the Belizean economy to stay afloat - paying that flipping superbond for us! Like every Belizean I want my slice of the oil money, but I know that it cant happen over night. The Govt. has to be careful to let it grow and not snuff it out. I'd rather have a slice of a big pie than a slice of a small one!

Anonymous said...

Can you please give an update about your butane conversion?

Seems like a lot of people (I for one) would be interested to know how it worked for you.

All the best!

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