By Adewale Sanyaolu, Lagos
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has declared an onslaught against manufacturers of substandard cylinders and welders.
The agency has announced that it will in the next two weeks unveil standards for welding as part of efforts to sanitise the industry.
It warned roadside welders who refurbish cylinders to desist from same, saying this is bad industry practice.
Head of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) at SON Mr Williams Okpeh stated this at the SON workshop for journalists on LPG and petroleum sector Chaired by the SON DG, Mr Farouk Salim, in Lagos at the weekend.
Represented by the Principal Standard Engineer, Mr Ayiti Edward, Okpeh disclosed it remained worrisome that most substandard cylinders imported from China are fake, saying most importers prefer to go to China to bring them in.
He explained that SON works with some foreign certified companies that have passed the SON required test.
He, however, pointed out that for those companies that are not certified, that requires SON officials travelling to the companies abroad to certify the cylinders before they are imported.
Beyond travelling, he explained that cylinders that are imported to the country are still subjected to further tests in order to ensure that they still meet the standards as approved before leaving the country of origin.
Okpeh added that over time SON has blacklisted some companies abroad, meaning that their products cannot be imported into Nigeria anymore.
‘About three years ago, getting to the laboratory of a cylinder manufacturing plant abroad, it was discovered that place falls far below the required standard. The welding process was equally nothing to write home about. To date, cylinders from that company are not allowed into Nigeria.’
‘Also about this same time, a company sponsored SON engineers abroad to certify a particular plant. But upon bringing the cylinders into the country, some of the cylinders were tested and they failed. We carried out another test, it still failed. At that point, we had to evacuate and destroy the cylinders. So, sponsoring engineers for certification tests does not mean such a product will pass.’
He added that as soon as the cylinder standards are reviewed and upgraded, importers are expected to send the same to their choice of companies abroad so that the cylinders are produced according to specification.
The SON official noted that it was illegal to import used cylinders into the country, adding that LPG cylinders must be identified with the manufacturer’s or importer’s name/logo.
Also, imported LPG cylinders must have a SON registration number for traceability while locally produced LPG cylinders must have a MANCAP number for traceability.
LPG cylinders, he said, are manufactured in 2-piece or 3-piece and must have a production date embossed on them.
He said the lifespan of a cylinder is 15 years and should be re-qualified every five years in order to ascertain its integrity and suitability for continued use.
Okpeh noted that the SON has also uncovered the antics of some producers who usually convert the compressors of refrigerators to cylinders.
‘These cannot withstand the pressure of the gas. The implication of this included the fact that lives and properties are at risk,’ he said.
Also speaking, Head of Oil and Gas, and Directorate of training, SON, Mr Timothy Abner, revealed that cylinders manufactured in the 70s are still in the Nigerian market, insisting that cylinders only have a 15 year lifetime.
‘I am sure if you go to the market now, you will see cylinders produced in the 70s in the Nigeria market still in circulation. They are still there,’ he said.
SON initiated collaboration with DPR to have testing vans that would be useful. In 2014, there were series of concerns raised on domestic LPG quality due to high pressure and high content of propane and butane.
‘As a result, explosions were rampant and the quality of cylinders and accessories were suspected to be responsible.’