By Maria Weldali – Feb 19,2020

AMMAN — A controversial move to replace steel gas cylinders with plastic ones continues to garner scepticism from gas sector stakeholders over safety concerns, with the Gas Station Owners Association (GSOA) rejecting the new concept completely.

While the GSOA endorses innovation in the sector, it “refuses any scheme” that increases the risk of cylinder explosions, raises operational costs and cylinder prices and requires costly equipment for operations, all of which negatively affect the sector’s distributors, GSOA President Nahar Seedat told The Jordan Times on Wednesday.

“Plastic cylinders have been rejected by many countries, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia,” Seedat said, adding that these countries have warned Jordan against using them, as the region’s typically hot temperatures increase the likelihood of plastic cylinders exploding.

Seedat also questioned the financial feasibility of using plastic cylinders, noting that buying new cylinders to replace the Kingdom’s steel ones is costly. Additionally, he said, plastic cylinders cannot be transported in the same way as steel cylinders, and require specialised forklifts to load and unload them, causing “massive losses” in terms of finances and efficiency.

“Several views have been expressed regarding this matter, and the GSOA holds its firm opinion that using plastic cylinders will have an adverse impact on the sector and will squander millions of dinars,” Amman Chamber of Commerce (ACC) President Khalil Hajj Tawfiq told The Jordan Times.

During a meeting with the GSOA council on Tuesday, the ACC, which supports the gas distribution sector, local distributors and tradesmen, affirmed that it is “awaiting the recommendation of a technical committee formed to evaluate the safety of plastic cylinders and the viability of using them in place of steel gas cylinders”, Hajj Tawfiq said.

He noted that the ACC will respect and take into consideration the committee’s resolution in cooperation with representatives of the gas sector to come to a decision that protects public interest and the sector’s investments.

Seedat also stressed the need to consider the recommendations of the committee to evaluate the safety and feasibility of using plastic gas cylinders in the Kingdom.

The more than 1,000 gas distribution agencies in Jordan employ a total of almost 20,000 workers, Hajj Tawfiq noted, stressing that making an “essential transition” to new technologies requires consideration of how to maintain the sector’s vitality.