Brega Marketing Company, the wholly owned subsidiary of the state National Oil Corporation (NOC) charged with distributing oils, fuel and cooking gas locally, announced Saturday that it has constructed a third new gas cylinder filling unit.
The new unit is located in eastern Libya following the construction of units in the west and south of Libya and enables gas cylinders to be filled instantly. It has a capacity of 400 cylinders per hour.
Brega stressed that the filling unit has been constructed using local knowhow and workforce – as part of its policy to encourage local talent. It stated that the unit is needed to meet increased demand for gas cylinders, to reduce shortages and the resultant black market.
Gas cylinder black market prices during shortages reach ten to twenty times their official LD 3.00 price. This is especially the case for southern Libya where no cooking gas cylinder filling station had existed previously.
The political significance of delivering cooking gas cylinders – Delivering public services to gain or maintain legitimacy
The ongoing efforts by the state to deliver adequate supplies of cooking gas cylinders across Libya and at official prices has been a challenge for successive government ever since the Qaddafi regime was ended in 2011.
The delivery of basic public goods such as cooking gas cylinders, petrol for vehicles, diesel for generators, cash at banks, and electricity has become the litmus test for the success and legitimacy of Libya’s successive interim governments. This has been especially the case for governments that are seen as foreign appointments.
The gaining and maintaining of increased local legitimacy through the efficient and effective provision of goods and services will make it more likely that Libya gains political stability and reduces polarisation. It should reduce the questioned legitimacy by the public of governments and institutions.
The ability to provide basic goods and services indicates that the state institutions, and the Libyan state, destroyed with the 2011 revolution, are making a comeback. The return of the state and its institutions would enable the state to progress and develop the country – beyond the provision of the basic goods and services – into a more sophisticated state.
This would make it more likely that the highly centralised inherited Qaddafi-era Libyan state can decentralise, diversify away from hydrocarbons and allow the private sector to slowly replace the state as the main economic actor.
Hence the simple effective and efficient provision of cooking gas cylinders during political and economic instability can have major significance in post-revolutionary Libya – especially in eastern and southern Libya where the Tripoli government is seen as distant and out of touch with local needs.