CAIRO: Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy said that the gas used for exports is not the same one used in butane gas cylinders domestically, according to local press reports.
Fahmy was responding to recent criticism about Egypt exporting gas while the local market has been dealing with an ongoing shortage of butane gas cylinders since this past December.
More than 300 distributors in Daqahleya reportedly waited days to fill up truck loads of cylinders and called on the gas company to increase supply to face the shortage.
“It is really shameful that our dear Egyptian government exports natural gas to Israel while it does not provide [gas] to its own citizens, Member of Parliament Ahmed Diab told Daily News Egypt.
“The government provides butane gas cylinders to Israelis at LE 0.50 while we [Egyptians] are not able to have it, he said. “Even if we find one, we have to pay around LE 25 [up from LE 3] for it . while 40 percent of our population lives under the poverty line, Diab said.
Last week, MP Hisham Al-Kady called for an investigation into the soaring prices of butane gas cylinders as well as their constant shortage in the market.
In his request, Al-Kady placed the blame for the “crisis on the Ministries of Petroleum, Social Solidarity and Local Development.
Al-Kady and National Democratic Party MP, Gamal Al-Zeiny, filed the request to the aforementioned ministries and expect an “immediate response, Al-Kady said.
He claims that there is a “secret agreement between vendors and traders to increase prices and [in turn] increase their profit.
The sheer distance between butane gas cylinder factories – mostly located in Cairo – and their distributors all over Egypt’s governorates compounds the problem, he said.
He also bemoaned the absence of an official monitoring authority to oversee the distribution process.
However, according to Yehia Mahmoud, media consultant at the Ministry of Social Solidarity, “All butane gas cylinder distribution points are closely monitored, placing the onus for the shortage of cylinders in some governorates on the Petroleum Ministry.
Meanwhile, MP Diab, representing the Qalioubia governorate, told Daily News Egypt Sunday that while the problem may be easing up in some governorates, “we [PA members] urge the minister of petroleum to speed up the ministry’s project to provide natural gas nationwide, to avoid the dependence on butane gas cylinders in the future.
The Ministry of Social Solidarity created a hotline where disgruntled consumers can report “exaggerated cylinder prices, Mahmoud said.
Another hotline (19096) was created for consumers to report defective cylinders.
According to one operator who responded to a call from Daily News Egypt, “the consumer is only obliged to pay LE 4 for a cylinder to be delivered to his home.
Mahmoud added that the ministry imposes harsh punishments on vendors taking advantage of the current shortage.
“Cabinet is currently discussing new regulations that would substitute butane gas with natural gas which is cheaper, cleaner and will avoid the eternal problems of butane gas cylinder shortages, Mahmoud said.