More winter woes as gas gets scarce
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Johannesburg - A national shortage of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) means people who switched their geysers, stoves and heaters from electricity to gas to escape load shedding are back to square one.
Afrox SA spokesman Simon Miller said the LPG shortage had been going on for nearly six weeks.
Afrox, one of the biggest suppliers of LPG, said an import of 3 000 tons of gas was expected in the next few days, while another 3 000 tons had been ordered.
“The reason for the shortage is local refinery constraints. South Africa does not over-produce LPG, which is why we have to import,” he said.
The supply would remain low while deliveries were being made.
“We have strategic storage units in Richards Bay but we have to ship across the country and deliver to our distributors,” Miller said.
Local gas suppliers are having to buy LPG gas on the open market to meet South Africa’s growing demand.
Shailesh Bhana of Nu Gas in Lenasia said on Tuesday morning he had barely enough to get through the winter.
“We get our LPG from the suppliers who, in turn, get it directly from Sasol, and they tell us that Sasol shuts down for maintenance in winter and that is why supplies are limited,” he said.
Sasol spokesman Alex Anderson said the company was continuing to supply gas and to meet its customers’ needs.
A source who lives in Roodepoort said he had been warned by his gas supplier to fill up by Friday as gas supplies were running low.
A gas industry source said he believed the shortage was due to retailers and franchisees not placing proper orders before winter.
“The volume of LPG is limited. What happens is that franchisees place an order well in advance, but forget to increase the order for the winter months, and that is why they are experiencing shortages,” he said.
eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal was looking at scaling back operations at crematoriums by next week because of the gas shortage, head of Parks and Recreation Thembinkosi Ngcobo said on Monday.
“The shortage of LPG has meant that we have had to go to other suppliers for gas to ensure that the crematoriums run. We are working hard to ensure that there is a supply, but if things do not change by next week, we will run out,” Ngcobo said.
However, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo spokesman Noelene Mattera said they had a sufficient supply of gas and cremations would continue as normal.
Andrew Quinlan, the owner of Gastrek in Durban, said the shortage happened every winter.
“It’s been going on for about 10 years. Fortunately we have been able to secure product and have not let anyone down.”
Durban resident Yusuf Mohammed converted his geyser, stove and heater to gas to become less reliant on Eskom.
“But no one told me there would be such shortages,” Mohammed said.
“I have been shunted from one store to another looking for gas and all I am told is that there is a ‘chronic shortage’.
“We have been encouraged to switch to alternative energy and this is what happens. Surely if they anticipated a shortage they should have prepared themselves,” he said.
Department of Energy spokeswoman Thandiwe Maimane could not be reached for comment.