Regulator: LPG market expanding

Friday, December 7, 2007

El Salvador's antitrust regulator Superintendencia de Competencia has completed a study on the production chain and competition in the country's LPG market.

The study concluded the market is "dynamic" with increasing supply and installed capacity and a growing number of companies, the regulator said in a statement.

Competition is growing due to the incorporation of new commercialization services and methods, according to the regulator, which added bulk sales are growing fast.

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Annual LPG sales from 1995-2006 grew an average of 8%, the statement said. In 1995, LPG sales totaled 42.4Mg (161Ml) and in 2006 hit 98.6Mg. Of the latter, 77% were sold in cylinders for residential use and the balance in bulk to commerce and industry.

Nevertheless, a high level of vertical integration between importers and distributors, practices related to the interchange of cylinders and entry barriers are limiting market factors, the government authority concluded.

Recommendations to improve the LPG market include regulating the interchange of cylinders as well as opening up import and storage installations at maritime terminals.

More than 90% of the gas sold in El Salvador is imported, with local refiner Petrolera Acajutla supplying the remainder.

Last year, Tropigas led LPG sales with a 55% market share, followed by Zeta Gas 20%, Total 14%, Coinver-Tomza 9% and Esso 2%.