A looming danger capable of consuming lives and property may soon hit the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) industry over the indiscriminate installation of plants at filling stations across the country.
President of the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), Mr. Nosakhare Ogieva-Okunbor, who raised the alarm at an interactive session with the media in Lagos at the weekend, cautioned the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) against licensing LPG plants sited within the premises of filling stations. He warned that the practice, if left unchecked, was capable of causing gas explosion as some of the filling stations have restaurants sited within the same location.
The NALPGAM boss said DPR should, as a matter of utmost national importance, begin the decommissioning of all LPG plants located within filling stations as part of measures to contain the impending danger. He also advised DPR to commence an operational facility audit of unlicensed gas plants within filling stations to ensure strict compliance with statutory guidelines and standards.
Ogieva-Okunbor said Nigeria must move towards the direction of countries with greater per capita consumption of gas, noting that many continue to depend on kerosene and firewood for their cooking, despite the attendant negative effects.
He said cooking gas remained cleaner cheaper and, therefore, should be the preferred option for fuel users while urging government to fast-track its plans to make millions of homes use cooking gas within two years. According to him, there was no doubt that the socio-economic benefits of switching from kerosene, firewood and charcoal to cooking gas are immeasurable.
According the NALPGAM boss, the unwholesome practice started when some operators approached DPR for the permission to run auto-gas plants, which will encourage more motorists to power their vehicles using gas, as against petrol or diesel. He regretted that the idea that would have deepened LPG usage in Nigeria failed as the operators started using the facility to fill LPG cylinders for domestic uses as against attending to vehicles.
“Though our association canvasses LPG penetration, we cannot continue to keep quiet while lives and property are endangered via this practice where LPG, petrol and diesel, which are highly inflammable materials, are traded side-by-side. If gas escapes and gets to any naked fire, the destruction, no doubt, is going to be so huge,” he said.
According to Ogieva-Okunbor, most of the filing stations currently running LPG skids alongside other petroleum products, got approvals for filling stations only and decided to add LPG skids on their own without necessary approvals.
The NALPGAM boss stressed: “These gas skids were not in the initial design of the stations. There are rules and regulations guiding the siting of such.”
He said safety, to a large extent, was compromised in most of the filling stations also running LPG skids as vehicles could be seen moving around the stations even when LPG is being dischared.“The front of fillings stations are not fenced, and this is a serious security risk. If a fire incident happens as a result of an explosion, the fire can travel very far from the filling station, and a whole street can be razed as a result of this,” Ogieva-Okunbor said.
“Plant operators must be conversant with all safety needs of the LPG plant operations. Gas plant should stand alone without being attached to filing stations or eateries,” Ogieva-Okunbor said.
He advised the DPR to embark on an operational facility audit of unlicensed gas plants within filling stations to ensure strict compliance to statutory guidelines and standards.
He said Nigeria must move towards the direction of countries with greater per capita consumption of gas, noting that many continue to depend on kerosene and firewood for their cooking, despite the attendant negative effects.