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Big cities forget the sound of the bottle

The development of natural gas and the modernization of cities reduce the use of butane to almost half in 15 years

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Big cities forget the sound of the bottle

A few years ago, Butanero entered all houses. The popular orange color of bottle and metallic sound of beating of bottles with truck formed part of urban routine. The dealer ran every street and neighbors demanded order. "Butane, butane!" repeated hardworking workers who loaded several bottles of 12.5 kilos each on ir backs. A scene that is now difficult to see in big cities, although it resists in rural area and periphery. In fact, of 2003 — first year of data from AOGLP and national Market and Competition Commission (CNMC) — 2016 consumption has plummeted by 44.16%.

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The decline in use of bottle is not due to crisis, but to change in facilities of home. "The fall coincides with strong development of natural gas facility," says Santiago Perez, director general of Spanish Association of Liquefied petroleum gas operators (AOGLP).

"Change bottle, cold water comes out", that is recurrent warning in houses to make order. In last 15 years, this notice has ceased to be heard in a multitude of cases. Why? The new facilities have a continuous supply and avoid this setback. The data thus show: It has gone from selling some 125 million units in 2003 to about 70 million in 2016, a similar figure that is expected to have closed 2017 (until October carries around 55 million units).

The 12.5 kilo bottle is more used. "That of all life," explains Manuel de La Morena, 52 years and a dealer since 18. This package corresponds to 77% of total sold of more than eight kilos and has a regulated price. Since November (its price is revised again in mid-January), 14.45 euros, 28.4% more than in July last year, when it played minimum of 11.25 euros. Despite this increase, it still costs 17.4% less than maximum value reached in March 2015 (17.50 euros). "The regulated price impedes development of sector, because it does not allow profitable investments of companies," says Pérez.

The fall is recorded in data of big companies, but where it is allowed to feel more strongly is in street. Of brunette knows it in detail. He lives in Miraflores de la Sierra (Madrid), owns a distributor of butane and delivery for 35 years in norrn part of community of Madrid. He has been in office all his life and confirms drop in sector: "Half is sold. In addition, now y make more kilometers than before to distribute bottles, so y raise expenses. " This causes consumption to focus on areas of low population density, where re are fewer blocks of flats and consumers are more geographically dispersed. "Where canalized gas does not arrive, re we are. That's our forte, "explains brunette.

In this issue, Director general of AOGLP, something that stands out as one of positive points of butane gas. "Where re is less population is not interested in bringing gas pipeline. It's less profitable. However, liquefied gas packaged does get re, where ors don't want to, "says Perez. In particular, 30% of population already uses natural gas installations, according to AOGLP. A growth that has taken over last decade in big cities, although it is not expected to increase much more at moment. There are or alternatives, such as use of electricity, although y are minority, according to Pérez.

Thus, a large number of population keeps use of butane bottles in house. By autonomous Communities, consumption is centered in Andalusia, where three out of ten bottles (29.57%) are sold. That is, 253,097 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas packaged from 855,845 tonnes consumed in Spain. That is to say, about 23 million of bottles. It is followed by Valencian Community, where 13.38% of total, Galicia (9.37%) and Catalonia (8.69%) are dealt.

by provinces, Alicante (6.54%) and Valencia (5.29%) share one of every ten bottles sold in Spain. As between Malaga (5.85%) and Sevilla (5.79%). "Periphery, rural areas and coastal dwellings are our main market. Also in second homes, where you prefer to pay for use, "argues director general of AOGLP. The Butaneros have it clear: "Where we are in small towns and rural nuclei," says De la Morena.

"I want to play bottom now"

The sector has halved. In spite of collapse, in last three years sales are maintained at similar levels and seems to have stabilized. "I want to play bottom already to know real business with which I count. The fall has stopped although I think we will go down more, "says brunette.

An uncertainty that comes to distributors and deliverymen. The distribution companies do not know what level of sales y count on. Especially in summer, season of skinny cows in sector. "Our August is now, winter, which is when we have more orders," says brunette. So many of se companies include or services like boiler reviews to keep business. But it's not enough.

In fact, fall in consumption has claimed hundreds of jobs. There is no official data, but if you deal almost half, distributors cannot keep same template. "We used to have seven hired deliverymen. Now re are five and if it keeps going down we will have to reduce more, "recognizes brunette.

"The years are heavy and bottles are growing heavier"

The work of butane cylinder deliveryman is a job considered hard. The containers are heavy — traditional is 12.5 kilos — and image of Butanero is recurring repeatedly climbing floors of buildings loaded with bottles behind ir backs. "The years weigh and each time bottles are heavier," says dealer Manuel de la Morena.

The usual schedule is from eight in morning to two in afternoon and from four to seven in afternoon. This in winter, time of more work in sector. In summer we work normally only until three in afternoon. The usual salary is around 1,100 euros, plus gratuities.

An old job that is gradually modernized. Orders can now be made over Internet or through mobile applications. Also on phone, even though that's been done for years. Despite this, 75% of sales remain unordered, according to distributors.

Despite changes, what can not be changed much is physical form of delivery. "An advantage for us would be elevator on many occasions. The problem is that in communities where elevator has arrived, gas has also been incorporated and no longer used as a bottle, "says De la Morena.

The type of cast, in which Butanero has to enter kitchen of houses, translates into a close relationship with customers. "They know you all your life. You greet grandparents, you see kids grow up and you know everyone's names. It generates confidence, "says one of norrners of community of Madrid.

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