A few months ago, 7News broke the story that the LPG companies, better known as the Butane companies, were shorting their customers in a major way.
It’s been a long time since that issue made its way back into the news, but tonight it makes a comeback because we’ve been reliably informed that they want to raise their prices.
But that’s a problem because we’ve also been informed that there are some of these companies are not bringing in the 60/40 butane/propane mix stipulated by law.
So, we asked CEO in the Ministry of Trade, Mike Singh, if they are able to monitor the companies, and about how they go about approving an increase in prices.
He gave us some surprising answers:
Mike Singh - CEO, Ministry of Trade
"So what we did in January is we changed the whole formula and we said we would only allow LPG that comes at a minimum quality of 60/40 mixture. That was the rule. We also made a change that rather relying on invoice values that we would take a global index which is called the Mont belvieu index which is the global index of the commodity of LPG and we would allow a variance against that index and an adjustment for logistics that would be a standard across the board that nobody could vary. Which meant that once a month we would then take the Mont belvieu index pricing, we would look at it and we would then determine that this is what you're allowed to sell as opposed to using your invoice value. What we found has been happening is that there has been accusations by some importers that other importers are not selling the same quality. So what we've done is we've actually ordered the equipment which has arrived in Belize which we have in use now, we're doing spot checks on the importers in their storage facility to test the gas to make sure it is within the mixture. If they're not within the mixture they are disallowed from selling that lot. Now one of the things that we have done with the Central Americans because they had an amount of stock in Belize at the time when we put the rule in place - we are now allowing them to bring in additional butane to mix within that stock to get up to the ratio. So yes I will agree with you that there are stocks in Belize that will not meet the ratio but we're allowing them to mix and add butane to that stock. Whether or not they do it a 100% is very difficult for us because our resources are very limited in being able to cover the entire country. So we've been doing it more on a spot basis and a basis when somebody has complained so I encourage the public that when they feel that they are not getting a 60/40 mixture to please report it to the bureau of standards and we will send an inspector out to test it to make sure."
"What would they have to do to be eligible for their price to be increased?"
"There is no eligibility - the price is set depending of what the World Price index is and that's the bottom line."
7News intends to follow up on this equipment that the Bureau of Standards has acquired to monitor the LPG companies.