After two months: (Temporary?) improvement in Gaza gas shortage

Empty gas tanks in Gaza. Photo by Gisha

Empty gas tanks in Gaza. Photo by Gisha

January 28, 2016. About 240 tons of cooking gas entered Gaza yesterday through Kerem Shalom Crossing. A similar amount is expected to enter today, marking a minor improvement in the acute cooking gas shortage in the Gaza Strip. It is unfortunate that it took public action and media pressure to correct a shortage in such a basic commodity.

Gaza has experienced a major cooking gas shortage in the past two months. Many use this gas for heating during the long blackouts in the Strip, which continue through the current cold weather. Gaza residents need 300-350 tons of gas per day on average, with demand rising to 400 tons a day during the winter. The amounts of gas that have entered Gaza in the last two months have been significantly lower. COGAT figures indicate (Hebrew) that through all of last week, only 448 tons of gas was shipped into Gaza, only slightly more than the daily demand.

Mohammed Abu Bakr, the deputy head of the Palestinian Authority oil and gas administration, told Haaretz that the gas shortage is a result of weather conditions that prevented Israeli gas tankers from docking at the Ashdod port, as well as the general gas shortage in the area. Abu Baker said: “Gaza consumes 350 to 400 tons per day, while the West Bank needs almost 950 tons per day. However, in recent weeks the oil and gas administration received only 500 tons for both the West Bank and Gaza”.

We can only hope that the gas shortage is behind us, but cannot help but wonder why a shortage that is said to have affected all cooking gas reserves, including the West Bank and Israel, primarily affects Gaza residents, who, incidentally, pay for their gas in advance? And why infrastructure at Kerem Shalom, where maximum capacity is 280 tons of gas a day, is not upgraded?

Update 17.2.16
On February 11 we received a response (Hebrew) from COGAT to our letter asking about supply of cooking gas to Gaza. They write that “COGAT, with the assistance of the Crossing Points Authority, allows supply of gas to the Gaza Strip via tankers using existing infrastructure at Kerem Shalom Crossing, according to the supply capacity at the crossing which stands at about 240 gas tankers per month”.