Shortage of cooking gas hits Uganda

Supply of liquefied gas has been dwindling forcing an increase in prices. FILE PHOTO.

For about a month now, supplies of cooking gas have continued to fall due to delayed delivery resulting from increased piracy on the Indian Ocean shipment line.

Dealers said Somali pirates intercepted delivery of Liquefied Petroleum Gas imports to the Mombasa Port early in December leading to general shortages, even in Kenya.

In a telephone interview with Daily Monitor, Mr Peter Ochieng, the Kobil Uganda marketing and operations manager said incidents of piracy off the Somali Coast have interrupted LPG delivery.

However, gas supply is further constrained by the absence of a bulky import handling and storage facility at Mombasa to meet the increasing regional demand.
LPG shortage, coupled with a surge in world oil prices and the current volatile dollar against the shilling has compelled some dealers to increase prices for the dwindling stocks on the market.

"The appreciation of the dollar has forced the value of the shillings to go down, which implies that dealers pay a higher cost for the commodity’s import to Uganda," Mr Ochieng’ of Kobil said.

The dollar has been appreciating against the shilling registering a record low of an average of Shs2, 333 since the beginning of 2010.

Mr Ochieng, however, said that Kobil had stocked enough supplies prior to the shortage and the firm’s supplies will not be interrupted.

But with some vessels docking and discharging cargo in Mombasa late in December, Mr Ochieng’ said the shortage was now slowly easing and prices stabilising.

Mr Ngom Mamdon, the Total Uganda managing director told Daily Monitor that the frim loaded four LPG trucks last week and that by mid this week, they would have normal supplies.

During the scarcity, he said, total was only able to supply 170 tonnes of LPG, leading to a 40 tonnes under undersupply.

Mr Ivan Kyayonka, the Shell Uganda country manager told Daily Monitor on phone that Shell has not experienced LPG shortages in the past few months and that to his knowledge, prices have been stable.
However, Ms Juliet Byona a Shell customer told this newspaper that she had looked for Shell gas almost everywhere in Kampala but in vain.

She said: “Prices have also been increasing. I used to pay Shs52,000 for the 12kg cylinder but I paid Shs70,000 at the beginning of this month.”

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