The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association of Nigeria (LPGAN) have resolved to deal with plants not abiding by gas rules. And also under scrutiny are cooking gas retailers, unauthorized importers and marketers of gas cylinders.
Head, Gas Department, DPR, Antigha Ekaluo, said the department had made arrangements to get all the stakeholders in the LPG sub-sector involved.
The agency, it said, is auditing all the licensed gas plants to know those that were complying with the rules. He said owners of plants who failed to operate in line with the statutory provisions provided for the sub-sector risked being sanctioned.
Ekaluo, speaking at a stakeholders’ conference in Lagos said “Our inspectors have been directed to ensure compliance. The DPR in the coming months shall commence facility audit of licensed plants nationwide to ensure compliance with statutory provisions on plant operations.”
Many of the marketers, Ekaluo added, “sell and store LPG without licenses and in the process, contravene the laws guiding the operators and as such will not be tolerated by DPR as we are making sure that a stop is put to this menace to ensure a safety and healthy environment”
He directed all plants to ensure that resale outlets have valid licenses to be able to operate well, adding that the body has directed its officials to move against illegal operators.
SON’s Head of Enforcement Bede Obayi said the agency had started what he described as ‘search and fit’ exercise to know people behind the operation of illegal LPG plants and check their excesses.
He added the body has officials in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Authority (FCT), working to rid the country of sub-standard LPG cylinders, among other products.
Obayi said the body relies on external sources of information to deal with illegal sellers and importers of gas cylinders.
According to him “apart from the fact that SON’s officials have been deployed to check the activities of illegal importers in the country, the agency relies on ‘informants’ to get information on the hideouts of perpetrators of such crimes. Informants have been of great help to us in this regard. We have informants in ports across the country, and they oblige us with information needed to tackle the issue.”
He continued “When we get information that a container carrying gas cylinders is leaving the ports, we mobilise our men to intercept the container. Once we discover that the products lack necessary details, we impound them immediately.”
Obayi said SON has intercepted several containers carrying substandard gas cylinders, seized and taken them to designated warehouses from where they were taken to steel firms for grinding and conversion into other metal objects.
“The importation of substandard gas cylinders is the handiwork of some operators. We have directed people to apply to the Director-General, SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, for approval to import gas cylinders. There are procedures for bringing gas cylinders into the country. People that meet the guidelines have no problem. Once you are not complying with the guidelines, we stop you from importing the product. We are on top of the game, moreover when arrests are made by SON, suspects and their goods are usually handed over to the police for further investigation and prosecution.
The President, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association of Nigeria (LPGAN), Dapo Adesina, said the association has directed his members to report anybody contravening procedures for engaging in the business to the nearest police station.
Adesina posited that there are 200 gas filling plant owners and 4,000 retailers in the country, noting that they have been certified to do the business. He added that the group’s duty is to pass safety information and other relevant data for growth to the operators.
He said illegal operators of gas filling plants are not members of the association, and are treated as such.
According to him, the power to approve LPG operators lies with the DPR, noting that the body regulates the sub-sector.
Adesina said his members were aware of the safety procedures, and ready to comply.
”One way of tackling the menace is to educate members on the dangers of operating gas plants or selling the product without approval.
“Through training, we enable our members to know gas compositions, how volatile the product is, and how to prevent explosion. The training is ongoing because we want to get to a level that the activities of fake operators are curtailed,’’ he said.
There had been cases of gas explosions in some parts of the country that had resulted to fatalities. There was a gas explosion in Akure, the Ondo State capital a few weeks ago. The incident, which occurred at a gas station, drew the ire of stakeholders, including the state government, owners of LPG plants, among others. The group called on the Federal Government to ban any operator that is disobeying the rules.