Liquified petroleum gas (LPG)

This has become very popular for reliable heating and cooking.
Obviously the advantages are to have another energy source compared to grid power.
We all know the travails of Eskom but not of the supply of LPG. I gather that its price is determined by government but not as rigorously as petrol & diesel.
We often have gas shortages in winter when the weather gets cold but this is due to an excessive demand that happens infrequently.
However with the recent shortage I have heard from my local gas depot that SA refineries used to manufacture our own LPG but with as with other national government department’s poor performance we now import most of it. (citation needed!)

Looks like there are no petro-chem types on the forum to provide the low down.
As your amateur investigator I have identified that in the Western Cape the terminal in Saldana that imports LPG is run by a concession (Sunrise Energy) from government.
Vita Gas is a main supplier of LPG to the whole of SA and Sunrise Energy wants to redefine their deal with Vita.
Vita Gas said ‘no deal’ and pulled the plug leaving us shivering in the Western Cape.,constraints%20in%20the%20Western%20Cape.

Your OP does not really ask any question or open a debate. It is merely a statement. You cannot really expect any engagement with a post like that.

Perhaps but it’s a large energy source and it hasn’t got the press it deserves.
Although we all use these appliances in our lives it doesn’t even have a topic dedicated to it on this forum.
So where does one start??

So are you speculating that this is the next big “utility” to start failing (seeing that electricity and water has gone down that route)?

I know it isn’t really a utility, but since people are using it in place of electricity for cooking & water heating, it might as well be.

Not specifically. I’m as clueless as most people about where our LPG comes from. Even the gas suppliers between them give you a different pitch about what is happening.
Here’s Bruce Whitfield: WC gas shortage (seemingly) averted, despite importer terminating its contract

My LPG depot tells me that the gas price is not regulated.

Hmmm… The maximum price is regulated. So they can sell at whatever price they want, as long as it is not above the regulated maximum.

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Fair enough but does this maximum price vary wrt where you are?
The logistics are from the terminals at Saldanha, PE and Durban. These distribute to large depots in their area and then in turn to smaller ones.
The further you are the more middlemen there are each wanting their markup… :thinking:

Yup. The pricing table is about 2 pages long.

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There are two types of gas: natural gas and LPG.
We hardly have any of the first one (maybe for industrial use only) But overseas it’s big.
I can’t work out if environmentally the one is better than the other… Anybody??

LPG is a byproduct of the petrol/diesel refining process, which is quite a dirty affair. By comparison natural gas is extracted as is, but 1) often as part of the oil extraction process, and 2) also have to be processed to remove water vapour and some undesirable elements.

So my gut feeling is that natural gas will be slightly cleaner than LPG, since LPG has all the same elements of extraction PLUS some of refining. But at this point, treat it as an opinion. I have no numbers to prove it.

Natural gas I read is methane gas (according to a Google search)
Whew! Then make sure you burn it and not allow it to leak into the atmosphere. (As a global warmer it’s way worse than CO₂)

Looks like they close enough, but natural gas is better:

However, that might be different if you liquify it first (energy intensive process), which will be a requirement unless it is piped.

That is actually an interesting question.

LPG is a product of an oil refinery. For every kg of petrol produced, a related amount of LPG will be produced. What is not sold is flared off - so it becomes CO2 anyway, but without doing usable work.

(L)NG is different though. Most NG comes from dedicated gas wells, so it could safely stay locked away underground.

So you could say it is 100% greener to use LPG.

But NG is also a by-product of most oil wells. Historically this would just be flared off, as the economic case for capturing/processing it is not good. But recent US laws have required oil fields to start using the NG they produce instead. If the market for NG is removed, then this is no longer an option, so it all gets flared off again.

Also, in reality, global markets use all the LPG and (L)NG that is available - you can’t really stop using either of them without bringing global economies to a halt.

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It’s mostly methane (more than 90%) although the exact composition may vary. There is also some propane and ethane in there.

Leaking the methane to air is indeed not good. But on the other hand, methane doesn’t stick around too long. Only 7 to 12 years, compared to CO2 that stays around ten times longer.

The effect of methane is indeed something I have wondered about. Especially in the context of beef production. A cow (or bull) generally lives about as long as the methane they produce, and as the methane breaks down into water and CO2, of which the CO2 was originally from the grass the animal ate, one could argue that the effect of breeding animals for beef has a fairly neutral effect. But then, if I keep twice the amount of animals (because money), then I also make twice the amount of methane, and even though it breaks down and is mostly proportional the environment in which those animals live, I can also argue that having double the methane around even for a short while, but constantly keeping it up by keeping the animal numbers high, must in the long term cause more heating.

Which means, asking questions about how we produce and consume beef is something we probably have to do… even if we don’t want to. And believe me… I don’t want to. I grew up on a cattle farm, I love my beef. In sincerely hope there is a good answer to this :slight_smile: