Maputo, Mozambique — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 19 October 2011 – The current shortage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Maputo is due to a fire in the main refinery of the supplying company in South Africa, according to Manuel Braga, general director of Imopetro, the company that is Mozambique’s sole importer of petroleum products.
Braga told reporters at a press conference here that LPG, used for cooking in tens of thousands of Mozambican households, was imported only from South Africa. The gas was supplied by the South African company Engen, with which Imopetro had a contract valid until February 2012.
allAfrica.com reports that a weekend fire at the Engen refinery in Durban has interrupted the constant flow across the border of trucks laden with gas containers. Engen has informed Imopetro that its refinery will not be producing again until 30 November.
Normally, Imopetro imports around 80t of LPG a day, mostly by road. Since this fuel is in constant demand by households, hotels and restaurants, any interruption in supply is felt almost immediately.
Mozambique’s monthly consumption of LPG is about 1,400t. Imopetro does have some gas in stock, but when imports are interrupted the stocks are rapidly drawn down. When gas is in short supply, consumers are forced to use firewood and charcoal for cooking, with a damaging impact on the environment.
Since the Engen fire, Imopetro has managed to import two rail wagons loaded with 47t of LPG, and Imopetro’s approaches to the other South African producers have led to promises of one 22t truckload of gas a day as from next week.
Imopetro has also explored importing LPG from Malaysia and Singapore by sea, and one vessel is due to dock in Maputo port by 30 October. But unloading the gas will be difficult, especially since Maputo port is not equipped with a gas pipeline.