Shortage of gas set to end

2011-11-01 00:00

AS the shortage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) worsens around the country, South Coast suppliers and users are also feeling the effect, with some people resorting to alternate measures to meet their daily needs.

Nomusa Zama, a domestic worker from Dududu near Scottburgh, says that she has not had gas for the past four days.

“Every day when I go to the store to buy gas they say there is nothing. I use a gas stove to cook food for my family because the electricity is too much.” Zama is now preparing her family’s meals on an open fire like many other members from her community.

Corporate communications manager for Afrox, Simon Miller, said that the end consumer is being hardest hit by the shortage.

“Right now priority is to supply to hospitals. The hospitality sector and domestic users are being hardest hit. There are very few 9 kg LPG cylinders available at the moment.” Miller said that he did not have any direct information on when the situation would ease.

“I did hear in a radio interview last week that we would only receive some relief in December.”

The shortages are due to planned and unplanned shutdowns in oil refineries in the country. Retail LPG stores on the south coast said that their business and customers have taken a knock since the shortage.

Gasquip in Park Rynie said, “Today [Monday] we had to turn away our customers because we had no gas. We supply the hospitality market and domestic clients. This has been bad for our business and equally as bad for our clients.”

Easigas in Marburg said that they have also been badly hit. “We used to get in two loads of gas every week. In the last three weeks we only had one load in.”

The store manager, Farouk Naroth added, “I have been in the gas business for 36 years. The prices have increased tremendously because of government regulations. It has made it increasingly difficult for us as retailers and our customers to survive.

“With this shortage now, it has made the prices rise even further, affecting the poorest of the poor.”

Local chicken farmer Nicholas Frey said that the shortage and hike in prices have impacted on business. “We need gas for our heating systems to keep our chickens warm. If we do get gas we are paying a much higher price for it than we usually would.”

Restaurant Association of SA (Rasa) chief financial officer Wendy Albert said more than 1 250 restaurants across the country have been affected by the shortage.

“More than 50% of restaurants in the country had to find other means to cook in their kitchens because the country is out of gas,” said Albert.

The shortage is blamed on planned maintenance at the refineries of Shell sa and BP SA.

Margaret Rowe, communications manager at Sapref, a joint venture between Shell SA Refining and BP Southern Africa, said they started a planned major maintenance turnaround on August 18 , which was planned about two years in advance.

“The turnaround has now been completed and all the main units have restarted producing on-spec products. We expect to achieve maximum capacity within the next few days,” said Rowe.


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