The usage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder for cooking has been gaining increasing popularity in Bangladesh. Some local as well as multi-national companies are supplying LPG cylinders in the country. One of such companies is Sri Lanka based LAUGFS Gas Bangladesh Ltd.
Mohammed Saidul Islam, the Chief Executive Officer and Director of this company is involved with this LPG cylinder business for 18 years.
He recently sat down with energynewsbd.com Editor Aminur Rahman and talked about how LAUGFS Gas has been conducting its business in Bangladesh.
energynewsbd.com: Can you tell us about your company?
Saidul Islam: LAUGFS Gas Bangladesh Ltd, formerly known as PetredecElpiji Limited, is one of the largest LPG distributors in Bangladesh, importing and distributing over 50,000 tonne of LPG every year.
Being the only 100% owned international entity, it has entered the LPG downstream industry of Bangladesh in 2001 with the brand name of Kleenheat Gas. We have grown rapidly over the years, establishing an expansive distribution network across the country with an annual turnover exceeding US $ 38 million.
LAUGFS presently operates a world-class LPG import, bottling and distribution facility in Mongla Port. We distribute LPG on cylinders with an extensive nationwide cylinder distribution network under the brand name of LAUGFS, PETREGAZ and KLEENHEAT Gas. We are highly regarded as the best in the class in providing LPG with technical services to industrial customers. LAUGFS is also the pioneer to introduce Autogas in Bangladesh and supplies LPG to automobile service stations all over the country.
LAUGFS Gas Bangladesh is a part of LAUGFS Gas PLC, a fast expanding energy conglomerate in the region and a part of the diversified multinational LAUGFS Holdings Ltd. With over 4,000 employees and an annual turnover exceeding US $ 215 million, LAUGFS has a strong presence across 20 industries in the power and energy, retail, industrial services, leisure and the real estate sectors.
LAUGFS has recently marked another milestone by being the first LPG operator in Bangladesh bringing in imported LPG directly from the source on its own sea vessel, namely Gas Courage.
energynewsbd.com: What are the sizes of LPG cylinders of LAUGFS that are available in the market? Do you have any other products in the market?
Saidul Islam: As of now, we are selling 12kg and 45 kg cylinders in regular market. We are also selling autogas and provide bulk LPG storage facilities for industrial customers. However, keeping in line with the customer’s need and demand, we are planning to bring new cylinders with capacities ranging between 12kg and 45kg.
energynewsbd.com:What are the unique selling points of your cylinders? Why would people opt to buy your cylinders?
Saidul Islam: We maintain international standard throughout the process of selling our cylinders to deliver those to our customer’s doorsteps. So it means, those are being delivered after ensuring utmost safety and reliability. We ensure the highest quality, safety and appropriate weight of each cylinder and because of these, our cylinders have gained popularity among the customers.
energynewsbd.com: There is a common complain reading the pricing of LPG among the customers. What is your opinion about that?
Saidul Islam: You will always find criticism in the market about the LPG cylinders. This happens because the customers want cylinders in lower prices whereas the businessmen want to maximize the profit.I however believe that the highest priority should be given on both the safety and satisfaction of the customers. In LAUGFS, we fix the price of our cylinders by ensuring both the customers safety and satisfaction. Because of that our cylinders are neither cheap nor expensive.
Besides, the pricing of LPG cylinder in the local market is intricately related with the price in the global market. So the prices of the LPG cylinders are being adjusted in line with the prices in the international market. Despite all these, we always try to keep our prices affordable.
energynewsbd.com: What are your expected sales of new cylinders and refilled ones in this year?
Saidul Islam: We plan to sell 60,000 tonne this year.
energynewsbd.com: The LPG cylinders explosions seem quite common these days. What are the underlying reasons behind this you think?
Saidul Islam: If the incidents of LPG cylinders explosions are analyzed, we would find that those happen because of the usage of low quality cylinders and lack of knowledge about cylinder’s usage.
As I said earlier that we put utmost importance on quality control. So our cylinders go to the market after passing through international standard inspection and certification. It means, there are very few possibilities of explosions in our cylinders. However this is not about our cylinders, we want no cylinders explosions to take place.
We also take meticulous steps in ensuring the quality of the parts of cylinders- such as valve. Most of the accidents happen because of the poor quality of either cylinder or valve. If we remain careful about maintaining the highest quality of these two parts and if the government takes fruitful steps in enforcing the foolproof security of those as well; then the number of accidents will be minimized I believe.
energynewsbd.com: Some other companies are going to enter into the LPG market. Will their entrances reduce the prices of LPG cylinders and benefit the customers?
Saidul Islam: As of now, a good number of LPG cylinder companies have entered into the market and because of their entrances, the prices of LPG cylinder have also come down within an affordable price limit. Now the price of a 12kg LPG cylinder is Tk 950. So for cooking purpose, the customers have started to take LPG as an alternative of natural gas. I believe, if more company enters the market with their products, the customers will be benefited in terms of pricing.
I however believe that the government has to create a balance between the demand and supply of the LPG cylinders. Because if the amount of supply surpasses the amount of demand, then the companies which will have to bear the losses. This will harm the customers because if the cylinder companies cannot sustain, the overall sector will get hurt.
energynewsbd.com: Do you take any steps in popularizing LPG or autogas as a viable alternative of CNG. How many autogas filling stations do you have now?
Saidul Islam: To popularize the usage of autogas, we-the LPG companies are of course trying hard. Unfortunately, despite we hope to get full-fledged support from the government about this, we find that some of the processes of establishing autogas pumps have been made unnecessarily complex.
I believe the government should make the establishment of autogas for the LPG operators very easy. The natural gas of the country is limited so the usage of the autogas instead of LPG should be increased. We now have a total of eight autogas stations.
energynewsbd.com: Every company wants to create a goodwill and reputation in the market. Is your company has attained desired success in building those?
Saidul Islam: Before our company enters into the market, there were other LPG cylinder companies. I can proudly tell you that, we are second to none in terms of ensuring the quality and safety of the cylinders.
It does not matter which type of or which size of our cylinders you buy or from where; I can guarantee you that the cylinder is safe to use. You will also get the appropriate weight in cylinders. If you use our product once, you will keep using it.
energynewsbd.com: Tell me some future plans of your company.
Saidul Islam: We plan to build 5,000 tonne capacity storage as per the government approved guideline. We will also abide by the several other directives of the government. We also plan to manufacture cylinders. We will invest the required amount for such establishment.