OIL GIANT BP is on the verge of pulling out of the containterised gas market, leaving many UK motorhome owners without a 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 to the UK 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. Motorhome and caravan manufacturers modified gas locker designs to accomodate 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 increases the available payload for motorcaravanners, without reducing the quanity of gas being carried. The use of a translucent liner also allowed owners to see how much gas was in the container and work out whether to source a refill.
Since the launch of Gas Light, Calor
improved its product offering with the launch of the Calor Lite container. This uses a lighter weight steel container with plastic handles.
It also incorporates a simple 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.
Until the future of the LPG product is sorted out, BP says motorcaravanners can 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.