Solution sought to LPGas shortage

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pretoria - The Department of Energy is working to find solutions to alleviate the current Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPGas) shortage.

Briefing the Economic Development Select Committee in Parliament on Wednesday, Deputy Director General for Hydrocarbons Tseliso Maqubela expressed concern at the shortage that is affecting all sectors including industry, business and domestic consumers.

Last month, the South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) said there were shutdowns at three of the country's six refineries caused by a combination of planned and unplanned shutdowns at the PetroSA, Sapref and Enref refineries.

While the department was responsible for all energy policy issues, industry was wholly responsible for ensuring production in line with national need and contractual obligations.

"Maqubela assured the committee that the department is working towards solutions to alleviate the shortages in partnership with industry. Thus, elements of the DoE LPGas Strategy, which is still in development, are already unfolding as demonstrated by the regulation of the gas retail price for the domestic market," said the Energy Department's spokesperson Thandiwe Maimane.

In the medium term, the department is considering other interventions which are still to be finalised.

The department is in talks with Transnet with regards to the need to upgrade the ports infrastructure to enable improved access for imports into the country. Maqubela also acknowledged that the shortage posed a threat to the strategy of encouraging the public to use gas as a cleaner fuel alternative.

Consultations with the oil industry players continue.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of Sapia and the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa.