NPC says customers using more gas than agreed contributed to recent outages
The recent natural gas outages that severely impacted hotels and restaurants on the West Coast have been blamed on most of the affected customers themselves.
The revelation followed a meeting today between Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss, officials of the National Petroleum Corporation (NPC), the Barbados National Oil Company Ltd (BNOC) and stakeholders in the tourism and manufacturing industries.
“What was revealed during the meeting is that the demand for natural gas has gone over and above the agreed supply requested by most of the customers, many of whom have been drawing down more than their agreed maximum amount,” a statement from the NPC said. It said that included some restaurants and hotels as well as the large industrial users of the commodity.
“Investigations so far have revealed that this seems to be the main cause of the recent outages,” added the statement.
It was explained during the meeting that a few minor leaks had been found and were being repaired, but that there was still more of the pipeline to be investigated.
The NPC said while these leaks may have contributed to the outages, these would not have been the main cause.
The corporation said the immediate solution to ensure there was an adequate supply for the upcoming Old Year’s Night and New Year’s Day activities was to request that customers, especially those on the West Coast, stagger the use of their natural gas and prepare as much as possible during the day.
It also suggested that those who are over their agreed maximum limit, cut back during this period.
“Additionally, all users of natural gas are encouraged to have a backup system in place, in the event of an emergency,” it added.
The NPC advised that in the national interest, major industrial enterprises should cooperate in this undertaking by reducing their use during what is a very busy period for the restaurants and hotels, to ensure there is a constant supply.
“In the meantime, the NPC has ramped up its customer service by positioning trained personnel who are available to take calls and direct customers as to what to do in the event of an outage when there is still pressure in the line.”
The gas company has also allocated a dedicated customer service line at 430-4051, where customers with major challenges are asked to call and report any issues. NPC officers can also be reached on their mobile phones at 234-2060/234-2063/234-2064.
“In addition to these short-term measures aimed at ensuring that the hotel and tourism sectors are not compromised at this critical period, the meeting discussed a number of other medium and long-term measures that will ensure the viability of the industry and the sustainability of a natural gas product,” said the corporation.
Today’s meeting was called to discuss the “unprecedented” outages and share plans for the continued delivery of the natural gas.
“The NPC has been supplying natural gas to Barbados since the 1800s and never before has there been an interruption of service of this magnitude,” it pointed out.
The meeting was also attended by senior officials of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA), the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) and the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA).