Fabian Demicoli

Gas Distribution – Cylinder Ownership Dilemma

 A multi flag LPG Gas Distribution system has been put in place early last week for a calendar month, time enough for Government to decide on the future of this sector once and for all. This means that distributors will have both Liquigas and EasyGas cylinders on their vehicles for their daily rounds and it is up to the customer to make a final choice. The Malta Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises , GRTU, has for the last ten months worked hard with other stake holders to find a solution to this issue. It is the prerogative of Government to take a decision which protects the livelihood of the gas distributors unless of course it decides to compensate all distributors to the tune of 6 million euro which is quite unlikely at this time.

The distributors themselves want work and more of it. Of course GRTU cannot hide the fact that over the last three years, it was the Malta Resources Authority who with a clear mind decided to create one of their largest blunders to date. Issuing two Authorisations to two different companies with conditions placed on the dominant market leader in this industry only, was not the right way to do this. Today we are reaping the fruit of what MRA has sown..

 

Today , Government is duty bound to set this blunder right. The leading market player, Liquigas has made substantial investment in Malta. Liquigas is obliged to guarantee security of supply both in respect to quantity and also in respect to the amount of cylinders available in the market. Security of supply is imperative for this island.

However the issuing of the second Authorisation to Easygas Malta Limited by the Malta Resources Authority left much to be desired. The ownership of cylinders was not addressed by MRA whilst issuing the said authorisation. No reasonable conditions were made. And the conditions made were to be abided to after the authorisation was granted. And the result is still unsatisfactory. Liquigas claim that Easygas are making use of their cylinders, cylinders which according to them are their assets, their sole assets. So if these cylinders are their assets, how come MRA , the regulator, sits pretty and allows the current market situation to deteriorate.

The rightful owner of an LPG cylinder has to remain its rightful owner. There is no bending the rule here and MRA or Government would do best to put their house in order. Mine is mine and yours is yours!

The future in gas distribution lies in providing a service to the public where we respect our environment, have less distribution vehicles on the road, and more accessibility to the provision of LPG cylinders, tested and guaranteed under safety provisions as requested by law. We cannot allow a situation where because of the term competition, we allow four or five vehicles honking around each area to sell LPG cylinders. And competition is really very restricted since the price is fixed by MRA. LPG cylinders are not bars of choclate or early morning oats!

The time is now ripe for the mistakes of the past to be rectified. Government needs to have the courage to change them now . The sooner the better.

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