The use of standard Liquefied Petroleum Gas accessories, targeted at promoting safety, is currently dominating discussions among stakeholders in the sub-sector following recent plans by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria to review composition of the gas in Nigeria.
Some stakeholders, our correspondent learnt, had advocated for the standardisation of equipment used in the business, especially the cylinders, as most of the cylinders used in the country are said to be over thirty years of age.
The very old cylinders, it was argued, posed huge environmental threat to the society as they were still in circulation all over the country.
Also the call to review the component of LPG to contain more butane (less pressured gas) that propane (high pressured gas) in some quarters, had been described as not the solution to the challenges bedevilling the sub-sector, considering the dearth in equipment used across the country by players.
Our correspondent, however, learnt, that retaining the current level of propane in LPG consumed locally presented a huge threat to old cylinders, as the high pressure might result in the rupture or cracking of the cylinders over time.
It is also being argued that the solution to the problem does not lie with altering the proportion of propane or butane in the substance, but in the phasing out of old cylinders, which are also life-threatening.
SON, in a statement, said LPG was set to come under a closer focus of the regulatory agencies following demands by operators for a review of requisite standards in operation in the sector.
The DG, SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, was quoted in the statement as saying that the agency would be intensifying its sanitisation efforts across the industrial sectors in a bid to achieve its set targets.
LPG is a product of popular use in the country with high volatility when compromised and these have influenced calls on the SON to focus its attention on the sector.
The SON intervention would come in the form of a review of standards for LPG, given that there are variants of LPG products in the Nigerian market with allegations and counter allegations of the imported brands having high bromine content.
Act No. 56 of 1971 establishing SON spells out its functions with reference to enforcing standards.
It authorises the agency to organise tests and do everything necessary to ensure compliance, and in the case of establishing industrial standards, section 12 requires that it convokes a stakeholders’ forum as well as constitute a committee to inquire into all the relevant aspect of the matter and make a report
The current state of things is that as stipulated by the relevant laws, the SON certifies all LPG tanks produced in Nigeria or imported from other countries before the Department of Petroleum Resources issues licences to the owners.
Specifically, the items covered include LPG tanks, hoses, valves, regulators, skid stations (Mobile Filling Plants), gas burners, cylinders, among others.
The SON also issues approval for the importation of LPG cylinders and other LPG Equipment to ensure that they meet the requirements of relevant standards, with the result that the SON registration numbers are engraved on all cylinders it gives approval for and such standards are to be reviewed periodically.
According to Odumodu, Act 56, Section 12 (2a & 2b) gives his agency the responsibility to invite such stakeholders as manufacturers, producers of the LPG, marketers, scientists, oil and gas sector operators, consumers, government agencies and gas filling plant owners to a technical committee meeting to discuss the standards.
He said that a review does not necessarily mean that the standard would be changed but that it could be retained if presentations and submissions of stakeholders convincingly require so.
“Any aggrieved party as regards the review of a standard should attend the TC meeting and make his or her point known to the stakeholders and all different views will be discussed by the experts and a decision that will be of benefit to the country will be taken,” Odumodu said.
He debunked the assertion that the review would favour one side of the stakeholders against the other, saying the reason for the review was to give stakeholders opportunity to look at salient issues dispassionately and arrive at what is best for the sector.