Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Running out of gas

with 3 comments

We have gotten pretty used to regular electricity outages and water shortages.  But running out of gas (LPG) which is the fuel for our stove, is a position we really hadn’t contemplated.  Although we have two cylinders (one for use, one as spare), you could be forgiven for thinking that being without a fuel source is a position we should never find ourselves in.  Quite right.  Each cylinder lasts about three months.  So we have had more than enough time to refill our spare.  Coming from a paradigm of abundance, we just never thought refilling (on demand) would be an issue.

Gas.... finished......

Thursday night: midway through cooking dinner, the gas runs out.  Spare cylinder swapped over to check for any residual fuel – none.  Inconvenient, but no big deal (luckily it was left-over night so partially warmed food was a small inconvenience).  We (that being the Royal We – ie: Mark) will simply go to the refilling place Friday morning, and we’ll be enjoying our coffee by mid morning.

Friday morning: Taxi driver is summoned – off Mark and driver head to get fuel.  First place – “the gas is finished” – ditto at the next place.  Off to main Tamale gas distributor.  Nothing – no gas in Tamale (and hasn’t been, for three weeks, we discover after 2 hours of fruitless searching in the taxi).  Hmmmmm…..   In fact, there is NO GAS IN GHANA.  Period.  Gas – finished.  Right.

Two main rumours were that a) there was a gas tanker docked but the offloading hose was leaking, so that needed to be fixed b) there was no tanker and Ghana was presently (desperately) trying to source gas from Nigeria.  Neither suggestion fills us with hope for an immediate resolution to the gas crisis.  Alternative plans need to be made.

Friday afternoon: Colleagues at work confirm they, too, are out of gas.  They have fuel switched to charcoal as they wait it out.  Not really an option for us, however.

the purveyor of coffee.... cleverly disguised as an electric kettle!

We have “borrowed” the electric kettle from work, as a means to at least obtaining hot water.  We now have the ability to have our coffee (very important), a cup of tea (of lesser importance), and other potential foodstuffs (two minute noodles).

Friday dinner: a makeshift affair involving various ingredients being added to a two minute noodle soup experience.  Not bad!

Weekend: fortunately we are away this weekend up to Walewale (delightfully pronounced Wally Wally), to participate in a Northern Region Volunteers meeting.  This means being fed (yay!) on the Saturday night.  One less night to worry about stove issues.  Our friends who we stayed with have adequate gas supplies, so aren’t impacted with the shortage.

Sunday night: Back home, our cold dinner consists of tuna and a green salad.  Quite yummy.

Monday: a fellow volunteer aware of our plight is off to Accra for about 10  days.  Although she is also out of gas, she kindly offers us her kerosene stove while she is away.  We gladly accept.  Said stove comes home with us on the back of Mark’s bicycle, perched precariously using a single occy strap.  Most of the kerosene leaks out, so a minor mess requires cleaning when we get home.  A few stops enroute to find replacement kerosene are not successful.  Nobody seems to know where to get some.   However, there is enough fuel in the stove to last for hopefully two dinners (Mon and Tues).  We shall see.

Mark cooking *before* the fireball extravaganza!

Tuesday: Rumour mill again in action.  Apparently the distribution to Tamale *should* occur tonight (?).  We will see what develops tomorrow – hopeful at least by the end of the week we will be back in action.  Having a young Trent University student from Canada over for dinner, so have been discussing amongst ourselves what the easiest / quickest meal alternatives are, to conserve fuel and still be acceptable as a dinner for “outsiders”.  Have decided on a make shift pasta.  Fingers crossed that the fuel lasts for the duration of the cooking time required.  Salad and fruit salad will help things along.

Success!  The stove worked, although it took more than twice as long to get the pasta cooked.  But…. We had a meal!   The most exciting part of the evening was when Mark went to shut off the stove – and a “fireball” erupted from the stove!  Good thing he wasn’t peering over the stove (as he so easily could have been)… otherwise, there would be a photo posted of him sans facial hair….  (and we all know how hirsute he normally is!!!)

Wednesday: confirmed sighting of long queues at gas refilling station via text message from a fellow volunteer.  We decide to wait it out until late afternoon, when, in a surprising display of efficiency, the tanks are filled quickly and Mark is quickly dispatched home with full cylinders.  A simple meal is made, but oh, how sweet it is!   Life back to normal once again…. Equilibrium restored…..

never thought we'd say we enjoy having gas! but we know it's true...


Written by Mar(k)

March 24, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Posted in Life in Ghana, Oil News

3 Responses

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  1. Hi Mark and Mar,
    This is a situation,like a good scout, that I would like to be “Be Prepared”. What would I have brought along, amongst other things:
    1. Coleman dual fuel stove.
    2. Coleman dual fuel double mantle lantern


    Join the locals and use firewood or dried cow dung.


    March 25, 2010 at 7:53 am

  2. Wow, peak gas hits Ghana! Just imagine how it will be in 20 years when the gas is really in short supply. Major impications not just there in Ghana.

    Keep up the good work

    Peter Strachan

    April 5, 2010 at 8:03 am

    • True enough, Peter! Sadly, there is a general feeling in the populous that the oil discovery is going to be a panacea for all things. Not holding our breath, but certainly hope that Ghana learns from the mistakes of countries like Nigeria….

      Mar Knox

      April 6, 2010 at 11:03 am

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