In this interview with YEMISI IZUORA Group Head, Liquified Petroleum Gas, LPG of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, Engr. Nwaoma Olujie, says private sector driven investment in gas cylinder centres will help boost safety initiative
How is Nigeria addressing circulation of expired and substandard gas cylinders?
Yes the National standards, NIS 69 and NIS 532 specify a life span of 15 years for the Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG cylinders and 5 years requalification of the cylinders.
Cylinders that have exceeded a lifespan of 15 years should be scrapped for recycling at Steel rolling mills while cylinders within 15 years should be requalified at 5 years intervals.
Currently, some investors are at the point of establishing Test Centres for the requalification of cylinders as part of the integrated efforts of Government and other Stakeholders in the industry.
How many cylinders have you so far recertified so far?
Test Centres which are private sector driven are still being established. Once Test Centres are established, requalification of cylinders will be carried out.
What standardisation measures do you have in place for improved LPG, CNG utilisation in line with governments gas utilisation initiative?
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON has been working assiduously to support these efforts of government particularly in the areas of ensuring that the requisite standards needed in the sector are elaborated and made available for stakeholders’ uptake.
Series of working group and technical committee meetings have been held before 2020 and still ongoing for the elaboration of Technical standards.
Standards for Compressed Natural Gas, CNG, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG, Liquefied Natural Gas LNG and Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG cylinders, Valves regulators, CNG cylinders, LNG cylinders and storage tanks, have been elaborated.
Other related standards are undergoing review to align with international best practices and new work items are under consideration for the development of additional standards as may be necessary.
The SON has also been inspecting and certifying LPG storage tanks and cylinders locally manufactured and imported into the country to promote safety in the sector.
Furthermore, the SON is working with other Stakeholders towards ensuring that Test Centres are established by investors for periodic requalification of cylinders in the country.
These Test Centres will be certified by SON once established to guarantee safety.
How many gas cylinder firms operate currently in Nigeria and what is the country’s total output?
Currently only two Steel Gas cylinder manufacturing plants are in the country. However, more companies are coming on board including the Composite cylinders manufacturer in Polaku, Bayelsa State. The total cylinders in circulation is above 2 million currently.
As Nigeria target 5 million tons LPG Utilization by 2023, do you have capacity to ensure industry wide compliance around standardisation?
The SON has the capacity to ensure industry wide compliance.
The SON has 44 State offices located across the country and these state offices are fully engaging with the stakeholders on standardization and quality assurance relating to the sector.
The SON will continue to build capacity to enhance its activities in the sector
Recently in Bayelsa an LPG cylinder firm was unveiled are you working with this company to ensure its output meets your standards?
The SON is aware of the LPG cylinder firm and will be providing Technical guidance to the company in the area of standardization and quality assurance to ensure that the cylinders produced by the company meet the requirements of the National standards and gain easy access to the international market, particularly in view of the implementation of the AfCFTA
We have witnessed gas explosions in parts of the country in recent time, what can you attribute these to?
The major contributor to gas explosion is breach of safety procedures.
Safety is critical in this sector and must be taken seriously when handling all gas associated products to protect lives and properties.
Most of the explosions were caused by loss of containment. At times retailers decant gases from one cylinder to another cylinder without being aware of the risks associated with such practice resulting in loss of lives and properties.
Locally made vessels should carry your MANCAP symbol, do you have them complying?
The LPG pressure vessels are unique products and require 100 per cent inspection and certification. SON has been ensuring that all locally fabricated vessels are inspected and certified.
Again, imported vessels should have the SONCAP label, what level of compliance are you getting in these areas?
Compliance to the requirements of the standards commence before importation of the pressure vessels. AA
All LPG equipment imported into the Country must have approval letter and import permit before importation into the country. On arrival to the shores of Nigeria, products are inspected and certified.
What are the challenges facing your regulatory and enforcement efforts?
The major challenge is lack of awareness on the role of SON in the area of certification of Gas equipment.
Stakeholders assume that SON and the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR are playing same role which is not correct.
The statutory responsibilities of SON borders on Standardisation, Certification and Quality assurance.
The DPR ensures compliance to standards before issuance of licenses to operators.
The two agencies are partners in progress in the standardization and regulation of the Gas Sector.
It is important that stakeholders understand this and work with SON for the good of the Country and the safety of its citizens.
Are you aware gas are retailed in residential and other unauthorised locations how do you intend to address this?
The SON has not been involved in monitoring the LPG retail outlets. DPR is responsible for licensing retail outlets.
How much effort are you dedicating to public enlightenment especially at the rural areas?
A lot of Public enlightenment campaign has been carried out through electronic and print media, seminars and workshops to sensitize Nigerians on associated risks of LPG handling and usage with their responsibilities in perspective.
The 44 SON State offices are also creating awareness at the grass root levels from time to time working with plant Owners, Dealers and Gas Equipment Vendors.
Does the DPR give you the necessary support to facilitate your work?
The SON has been collaborating with DPR and other stakeholders to achieve its mandate in the sector in standards elaboration, development and implementation of regulations.
How are you addressing smuggling of cylinders and do you have cooperation of sister agencies?
Smuggling is a criminal offence against the State. Our Sister agencies, the Nigerian Customs as well as Security agencies confront this around the country on daily basis.
Smuggled cylinders are suspected to be substandard products ab initio.
When apprehended, they are subjected to tests to ascertain the quality status before other regulatory steps are taken on them.
Considering that LPG cylinders are classified as life endangering products, smugglers of the product are made to face the weight of the law while the products are destroyed at their expense when confirmed to be substandard. Even if they meet quality requirements, the Importers are subjected to heavy fines.
SON will continue to work with relevant sister agencies to ensure that importers of substandard cylinders are prosecuted.
How many of the substandard cylinders have you seized recently and what is the market value?
The SON has seized various consignments of substandard cylinders imported and locally fabricated in time past. However, the latest seizure was a 40-feet container having 12.5kg LPG cylinders and the market value was about N38m.
What other information can you share with us on this issue?
The need for synergy is very critical in achieving the objectives of the Federal Government in the Gas sector.
All stakeholders must work together for the common good of the Country.
In line with its mandate, SON will continue to collaborate with other sister agencies and relevant sector stakeholders in meeting its statutory responsibilities in the Gas sector.