OIL GIANT BP is on the verge of pulling out of the containterised gas market, leaving many UK caravanners confused about their gas supplier.
According to this report by business news service Bloomberg, the company is looking to sell off the LPG concerns in order to concentrate on more core parts of business. A buyer is sought although at this stage, no offers have been forthcoming.
The BP Gas Light system came into the UK caravan market in 2006 with great fanfare and a substantial marketing push behind it. The distinctive grey/green containers were offered in two sizes, but the big selling points were low weight, practicality and the promise of pan-european availability.
The introduction to the market was not without issues however. Caravan manufacturers had to modify the design of the gas lockers of new tourers for the 2006 season in order to fit the wider, taller cylinders into a space designed for the ubiquitous Calor cylinders. Moulded floors in some tourer gas lockers were also incompatible with the chunky new cylinder design.
Once this was done, BP made inroads into the market, thanks to the ease of handling and the ease of use. The weight advantage over the Calor Gas equivalent was achieved by using a GRP canister, rather than steel. This ensured that caravanners could reduce the overall weight (particuarly noseweight) without reducing the quanity of gas being carried. The use of a translucent liner also allowed users to see how much gas was in the container and work out whether to source a refill.
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Since the launch of Gas Light, Calor
improved its product offering for caravanners with the launch of the Calor Lite container. This uses a lighter weight steel container with plastic handles. It also incorporates a gauge, although lacks the user friendly 27mm clip-on regulator system used by BP. This fitting is only available on Calor’s smaller Patio Gas cylinders.
BP informed Practical Caravan that until the future of the LPG product is sorted out, caravanners should carry on using the system as normal. The LPG bottles filling activities will continue to be managed as a global business until sold and BP intends to sell the business as going concern. Any deal is expected to complete by the end of 2013, subject to regulatory and other approvals.
Ultimately however, if a buyer cannot be found for the business, users of the system could potentially be landed with an expensive bill to replace their gas cylinders and pigtail hose to switch to Calor or other rival system.
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