Our stove is propane powered. We have these gas cylinders that we attach to the stove, and when they’re empty, we take them to the Shell propane outlet to get filled.
When we first got married, Fahim told me that they usually last about a month. In reality, ours tend to last 2 or 2 1/2 months – evidently, we don’t use ours as much as his mother did for their family, but then, there was more than just his mom and dad.
I started thinking about our gas situation and thinking it should be running out soon. Well, to be honest, I thought a month ago that it should be running out soon. After all, we last changed it when Kim, Lou, and Ike were in town, and that was back in late September to early October. Three and a half months ago.
So then Fahim starts wondering if we even have a full cylinder. I thought we did, but my logic was based more on where they were placed – one by the kitchen door, the other over by the stairs, and I thought he only kept them side by side if they were both full.
Turns out that no, Fahim only ever filled them one at a time.
See, one of the empties isn’t ours – it came with the house – so he probably doesn’t want to fill it because we couldn’t take it with us. Or something.
Fahim goes to take a look, and lo and behold, no, they’re both empty. That was last night.
So we start wondering if I’ll even be able to cook today or will it run out while I’m boiling water for breakfast tea and cereal?
Luckily, we have enough, and it even gets us through me cooking lunch. *whew!*
See, I can’t go get the gas. Well, I could, but I can’t lift the tank that easily, and Fahim’s the man, so he does this sort of thing. Fahim can’t go until after work is over. So 5 pm, he’s done work, and he goes for gas.
Flashback… A few days ago, when we were at Fahim’s parent’s place, I read in the newspaper (we don’t have a subscription, but his parents do, so when we’re over there, I tend to catch up on reading the news) that Shell petitioned the government for an increase in gas price. See, the price for a large cylinder is set at Rs. 850, although the actual cost is Rs. 1050.
Shell Gas has claimed losses of Rs. 790 million, or around $7.9 million US.
"We reluctantly and regretfully have decided to curtail supply of domestic gas cylinders to mitigate mounting losses," Shell said in a statement.
As a result, there was a gas shortage. Dhammika, the trishaw driver, told Fahim that there hasn’t been any gas for the last few days. He’s not sure if there’s gas today or not. All Fahim can do is go and find out.
See, the price for LPG, or Liquid Petroleum Gas, is set by the government. Already in 2005, there was a 40% increase in the price of LPG to consumers. Consumers have complained about the high cost of LPG.
What the heck is Shell supposed to do? Out of the goodness of their hearts, continue to suffer major financial losses in this country due to not being able to sell at even a break-even price? Personally, I don’t see why they’re still here doing business with losses of that nature. But then, it can’t really do that because "Shell, which acquired a 51 percent stake in Colombo Gas Company when it was privatised in 1995 for US$ 37 million, is still partially government owned and does not make its detailed accounts available to the public."
There are three gas companies – all with different colored cylinders – that sell LPG. None of them will take the cylinders belonging to the other companies despite them being identical in every other respect.
So if we wanted to buy LPG from, for example, Laugfs, we’d have to shell out more rupees for a non-refundable deposit on yet another cylinder.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Anyway, Fahim went out, and it turned out that there was gas. He got the cylinder filled, so we’re happy.
And now we’re back to wondering when our gas is going to run out. Tomorrow during me making breakfast? Seriously, it’s GOT to be any time now.