The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) says annual consumption of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in the country has increased to 50 million kg from 1 million kgfive years ago.
The liquified petroleum gas industry had remained an open market without price regulation by ZERA, until August last year, when the authority through, Section 54 of the Petroleum Act as refined by Statutory 90 of 2021, was empowered to do so.
As the country battles relentless electricity cuts, domestic power consumers have increased the usage of LPG gas as a substitute source of heating energy.
ZERA consumer services manager, Engineer Norbert Mataruse told a retailers’ conference on Tuesday that the country was not yet self-sufficient in terms of electricity supply hence consumers were increasingly turning to LPG gas for energy.
“LP gas consumption has improved significantly in the last five years reaching 50 million kg, which pushed us to start regulating the sector,” he said.
He said currently Zimbabwe was meeting the deficit power through imports and frequent load shedding, while various power projects were at different stages of implementation aimed at improving the power supply.
“We have licensed more than 90 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and the retail sector, like many other companies are doing, should take lead in setting up solar mini grids for its own use,” he said.
Engineer Matarutse said Hwange 7 and 8 projects were the last coal projects to get development funding, hence the authority making efforts to encourage investments in renewable energy production.
According to ZERA, as of August 2021, a total 20 million kg of gas had been consumed, and was projected at 40 million kg by year end, from an initial target of 60 million kg.
The National Oil Company (NOIC) is working on developing a storage facility for gas, similar to the Msasa fuel depot.
LPG is a product priced in the international market. The vagaries of the price fluctuations in the global market affect the price of domestic LPG because 100 percent of LPG sold in Zimbabwe are imported from abroad and priced in US dollars.
As a result, prices of gas keep soaring at the international market with consequential impact on the local market.
According to ZERA, LPG gas is retailing at $337,96/kg or US$2,32 per kg. LPG operators are required to display the prices at their retail outlets at a prominent place in clearly legible letters.
The regulator also says it is permissible to sell LPG at prices below prescribed prices depending on one’s trading advantages.
According to the Petroleum Act, ZERA can review the monthly prices of fuel and LP gas on or around the 5th of each month.