Businesses struggle against gas shortage


Business owners continue to speak out about the dire effects of the current LPS gas shortage gripping the country with some saying they may have to shut their doors.

Gas suppliers fear the current crisis will be as bad as in 2011 when the country had a shortage for nearly four months. Old refineries are closing down and a high demand for gas have been cited for the stock constraints. Central Gas Distributors owner, Siraj Girie says his business is sinking fast.

“The shortage has disastrously affected us; we’ve been hit very hard. Especially this past long weekend, we’ve had absolutely almost zero product coming out in the market.”

The Fuel Retailers Association (FRA) was concerned about the recent fuel shortage which has now affected numerous businesses in the industry. A Durban refinery shut down due to planned maintenance last week and there have also been unforeseen problems at the Sapref plant.

The association said while there has been a slight improvement in the supply of petrol and diesel, over 100 service stations are still running dry

Spokesperson Reggie Sibiya said, “What we’re hearing is that even the shops and businesses in those sites affected are actually dropping because motorists if they go to a site and there’s no product, next time they’ll just go to another one.”

Sibiya also said the problem indicated that fuel plants don’t have enough storage capacity to meet demand. It’s understood BP’s fuel stations are among the hardest hit. The FRA said it anticipates the problem will be resolved soon. Eddlesgas’ financial director, JC Smit, said gas supplies had “dried up” since June 25.

“We hear all sorts of reasons why this is happening, but none of which anyone is willing to put on paper to show me,” Smit said.

The Kirstenhof company has a backlog of orders, and some customers have reported waiting as long as two weeks before new gas arrives. At least five other companies in Cape Town have also complained of being short on supplies. On online forums, users complained about arriving at stores and being restricted to buying small canisters or being placed on two-week-long waiting lists.

But Sapia’s executive director, Fani Tshifularo, said that all the country’s refineries were up and running, producing the same amount of gas as they had in previous years. He said the supply was simply not enough and that, with continuing maintenance and an ageing infrastructure, the country’s gas industry was unlikely ever to satisfy consumer demand.

“We just don’t have enough refineries,” he said.

June, July and August are generally the busiest months for many gas suppliers. The cold weather drives up demand. But now, Smit said, they had lost a significant amount of business.

By Kristy Jooste