Why refilling your gas cylinder will soon be a hard task

Kenyan consumers will not enjoy the convenience of refilling cooking gas cylinder at any petrol station or retailer next door in the next few months.

Instead, oil marketers will only accept cylinders that bear their brand.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) started the public consultation phase in May and concluded in June. Oimeke said the regulations would be ready for implementation in a few months, replacing the 2009 regulations.

“We are looking at the consumers’ interests as well as those of the industry and trying to strike a balance. It can never be one-sided. Following the consultation with the public, the consensus was that the mandatory cylinder exchange pool will go away,” said ERC Director-General Pavel Oimeke

The Ministry of Energy late last year formed a committee to review the LPG Regulations of 2009 that saw the introduction of the unified valve and the exchange pool, enabling consumers to buy gas from any marketer and even retailers next door irrespective of the brand. The committee recommended doing away with the exchange pool.

Oil marketing companies have in the past argued that ‘liberalised’ LPG regime has led to the proliferation of illegal gas refilling business.

Although this was an unintended development, marketers believed that the policy needed to respond to the reality on the ground.

The ease of access to gas may have however led to growth in the use of cooking gas in Kenya, moving from 80,000 tonnes per year in 2010 to 189, 300 tonnes last year.

Despite the huge amount of LPG consumed locally, more than doubling over the eight years that the rules have been in place, the per capita consumption of gas in Kenya is still low compared to other countries in Sub Sahara Africa such as South Africa, Senegal and Botswana Oil marketing firms note that the looming changes in the LPG regulations will spur more investments in the sector.

They say this will, in turn, increase access to cooking gas in the country. Vivo Energy Chief Executive Joe Muganda noted that investors had held back their investments due to little control they had over their gas cylinders.

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