How to Start a Gas Business in South Africa: A Comprehensive Guide

LPG gas bottle stack ready for sell

How to Start a Gas Business in South Africa: A Comprehensive Guide

Gas refill businesses have become a common sight across South Africa, offering an essential service to both households and commercial entities. If you’re considering venturing into the gas business, here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started.

Understanding the Licensing Process

Before you embark on this business endeavor, it’s crucial to understand the licensing process involved. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy is responsible for granting site and retail licenses for buying and selling petroleum products to the public. A retailer can only purchase products from a licensed manufacturer or wholesaler. The license remains valid for the duration of your business operation.

  1. Complete the Application Form: Begin by completing the “Application for Site or Retail License” form (DMRE 39).
  2. Submission: Submit the application form to your regional Department of Mineral Resources and Energy office.
  3. Notice Publication: Upon receipt of your application, you’ll be required to publish a notice of application in four newspapers.
  4. Proof of Publication: Provide proof of the published notice to the Department.
  5. Annual Information Submission: Once you have obtained your license, ensure that you submit your business information annually using the “Retail License Annual Information Submission Form” (DMRE 33).

Old gas cylinders for welding and cutting. Rusty propane and oxy  - old gas cylinders for welding and cutting rusty propane and oxy 1024x683 - How to Start a Gas Business in South Africa: A Comprehensive Guide

Timeframe and Costs

The Department aims to make a decision within 90 days from the date proof of publication is received. The costs associated with this process include a R1,000 site license application fee, a R500 retail license application fee, and R500 for the retail license annual information submission.

Startup Investment and Profitability

Starting a gas refill business requires an initial investment of around R250,000. However, this figure can vary based on factors such as LPG marketer, storage capacity, equipment, and more. Despite the initial investment, gas refill businesses can be profitable due to the high demand for LPG gas for cooking and other purposes. Wholesale gas prices allow room for adding a reasonable profit margin.

Steps to Launch Your Gas Business

  1. Obtain the Wholesale License: Obtain a DMRE 38 wholesale license by applying through your regional Department of Mineral Resources and Energy office. This requires publishing a notice of application and paying a R500 annual license fee.
  2. Secure a Gas Supplier: Establish a relationship with a reliable gas supplier, such as a distributor or importer.
  3. Find a Suitable Location: Choose a location accessible to your target market and with adequate infrastructure for gas storage.
  4. Equipment Acquisition: Acquire the necessary equipment, including tanks, pumps, and dispensers.
  5. Operations Plan: Develop an operations plan for refilling and replacing empty cylinders.
  6. Compliance and Regulations: Ensure compliance with regulations related to gas storage, handling, and sales.
  7. Insurance: Obtain insurance coverage for your business and equipment.

Pros and Cons


  • High Demand: LPG gas is widely used, ensuring a steady stream of customers.
  • Potential for Recurring Revenue: Rental of tanks can lead to recurring income.
  • Low Overhead Costs: Startup costs can be relatively low compared to other businesses.
  • Flexibility: Tailor your business to residential or commercial customers.
  • Potential for Growth: Successful businesses can expand and diversify.


  • Safety and Regulations: Strict adherence to safety regulations is essential.
  • Seasonal Fluctuations: Demand can fluctuate with seasons.
  • High Startup Costs: Licensing and equipment costs can be substantial.
  • Dependence on Suppliers: Reliability of gas supply is crucial.
  • Competition: The industry can be competitive.
  • Environmental Concerns: Environmental regulations should be met.

Starting a gas refill business in South Africa requires careful planning, adherence to regulations, and dedication. With the right approach, this venture can be not only financially rewarding but also contribute to meeting the energy needs of communities and businesses. Tune into Business In Motion On Lekoa fm every Friday at 11:00 am for more business advise and tips to make your business more profitable.


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Author: Thabiso Zwane


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