The price hike led the Brazilian consumption of gas cylinders of up to 13 kilos, most used in homes, to close 2022 at the worst level in ten years, according to a survey carried out by the OSP (Social Observatory of Petroleum).
Per capita consumption, of 43.25 cubic meters per thousand inhabitants, was the worst since the data began to be compiled by the ANP (National Agency of Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels), in 2001.
The sector defends greater rigor in the application of the gas voucher, a benefit granted by the government for the purchase of cylinders by low-income families and which today is not stamped for the purchase of the product, that is, families can use the money for other purposes. . The benefit is paid every two months, on the same day as the payment of the Auxílio Brasil, which will be renamed Bolsa Família.
In 2022, the country consumed 5.1 million tons of cooking gas in cylinders weighing up to 13 kilograms. The volume represents a drop of 2.59% compared to the previous year. With some increase in consumption in other containers, total sales of the product fell by 0.85% in the year.
“The main explanatory factor for this is the price”, says economist Eric Gil Dantas, from OSP and Ibeps (Brazilian Institute of Political and Social Studies). In 2022, the 13-kilogram cylinder was sold, on average, at R$ 109.86, the highest value since the beginning of the disclosure of data by the ANP, even considering inflation.
He recalls that the consumption of cylinders remained practically stable between 2007 and 2017, starting to fall in 2018 – with the exception of 2020, when sales grew by 5.1% driven by social isolation.
“The real price (discounting inflation) for 2022 is 49% higher than the average for 2007-2017”, says Dantas, in a statement distributed by the OSP.
The rise in the price of cooking gas accompanied the appreciation of international oil prices after the most critical period of the pandemic, in 2020. It was the target of criticism from the opposition and led the government to institute a benefit to minimize the impacts on the poorest.
The product weighs heavily on the budget of low-income families and, given high unemployment and rising prices, many have had to switch from gas stoves to firewood to prepare food.
Representative of LPG distributors (liquefied petroleum gas, as cooking gas is known), Sindigás has been advocating that the amount paid by the government as a gas voucher be directed only to the purchase of the product.
“The sector considers that the target of social actions should not be the sale of cylinders, but rather ensure that the Gas Aid is directed towards combating firewood in the residential energy matrix”, says the entity’s president, Sergio Bandeira de Mello.
Part of the drop in cylinder consumption can be explained by the increase in other containers, with the opening of new markets for larger packages in commerce, industry and more modern homes with gas stations.
But even so, experts see difficulties for governments to deal with the so-called “energy poverty”, which UFRJ researcher Richarde Junior classifies as the difficulty of accessing safe, modern and sustainable energy resources due to the condition of social vulnerability.
In its latest National Energy Balance, for example, EPE (Empresa de Pesquisa Energética) estimates that residential consumption of firewood increased by 3.2% in 2021, reaching the highest level at least since 2012.
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