Unless the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company (JPRC) releases 719 gas cylinders it seized from gas distributors, the Petrol and Gas Station Owners Association plans to file a court claim against the refinery, a senior association official said on Sunday.
"The association will wait until November end, [and] if gas distributors [have not got] back the cylinders or are not financially compensated, courts will be the association's choice," Arrabi said.
Since June 1999, the refinery has seized around 719 gas cylinders in pursuance of public safety regulations requiring repossession of cylinders that are "impaired" and dangerous, according to a refinery source.
But, according to Arrabi, gas distributors are not supposed to bear the expense of impaired gas cylinders.
"The JPRC is the only side to import gas cylinders, so all cylinders, impaired or not, are its responsibility," he said.
A special committee representing the refinery, the Ministry of Energy, the Civil Defence Department, the Jordan Institution for Standards and Metrology and the association has been formed to investigate the issue.
In late October, the committee recommended the removal of 114 cylinders at the refinery's expense, while the distributors would bear the cost of removing 605 cylinders. But the association has raised some reservations about the committee's decision.
Arrabi said the association was "concerned" about the unequal representation of interests on the committee. "Each side has only one member in the committee, while the refinery was represented by three members," said Arrabi.
"In addition, the committee's task is to decide whether gas cylinders are impaired or not and not to decide at whose expense the cylinders would be removed and replaced," he added.
"The association has reservations about the committee's decision in line with the 1988 Prime Ministry's regulation that raised the fee received by the refinery for checking the cylinders and replacing them," he continued.
The fee hike in amount five fils per cylinder, bringing the rate to 20 fils, was implemented as an inducement for the refinery to monitor damaged cylinders.
"This regulation stipulated that the refinery remove and replace all cylinders which do not pass the technical test and which are dented," said Arrabi.
Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources Secretary General Ahmad Bashir said a decision surfaced on Wednesday to remove and replace half of the 719 cylinders at the distributors' expense.
"This is due to [mishandling] while loading and delivering cylinders, so the distributors have to bear the expense," said Bashir, adding that the rest of the cylinders would be replaced with new ones at the refinery's expense.
In the last couple years, around 200,000 gas cylinders were replaced at a cost of JD5 million to the government.
But, according to Arrabi, the distributors are only willing to remove and replace 62 of the 719 cylinders in question at their own expense. They agree to take responsibility for these 62 cylinders because they are either without a certificate of origin or were welded outside the refinery.
"Our decision is in line with our agreement with the refinery and the Energy Ministry," the association head said.
The cost of replacing the 719 cylinders is around JD20,000. In Jordan, there are around 850 gas distributors and the number of gas cylinders stands at around 2,500,000.
( Jordan Times )
By Khalid Dalal
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)