LP Gas shortage hits Zimbabwe
ZIMBABWE’S energy woes have been compounded by the sudden shortage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) caused by export cuts by South Africa which is battling to satisfy domestic demand of the product as a result of the shutdown of refineries for compulsory maintenance work.
So severe were the gas shortages this week that most distributors were closed, and few places where the product was available, prices had shot up from the retail average of US$1,80 to as high as US$5 per kilogramme.
Paul Bowen of Redan Gas said the shortage is a result of supply cuts from South Africa.
“There has been a severe shortage of LPG in the country over the last week. This is due to problems at the refineries in South Africa, which is where most of the Zimbabwean wholesalers procure the LPG,” Bowen told the Financial Gazette this week.
“There is currently LPG coming into the country on a daily basis and we are hoping to have product available at our sites early next week. The supply of LPG form South Africa should stabilise over the next two weeks and we are looking at other options for procurement,” he added.
There is, however, no guarantee that gas supplies would be restored in Zimbabwe any time soon.
The shutdown of South African gas refineries has forced some of the players in that country to import the product for their own market.
In a statement last week, one of South Africa’s major LPG suppliers, Afrox said: “The current gas shortage is a combination of refinery shutdowns and constrained supply at some refineries that are still in operation. Afrox is importing LPG but the lack of national import terminals for LPG in South Africa, limits the tonnage which can be imported by Afrox to 3 000 tonnes per shipment, which constrains our ability to meet national demand in peak winter periods. Until the local refineries are all operating at 100 percent capacity, the shortage will continue.”
Gas has become popular among Zimbabwe energy users in the face of erratic electricity supplies.
The country whose peak electricity demand is 2 200 megawatts (MW) a day, produces a mere 1 500 MW.