The Abuja zonal office of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has commenced a crackdown of plants illegally selling liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) commonly called domestic or cooking gas within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its environs as part of efforts to reduce the incident of gas explosion.
LEADERSHIP Sunday can authoritatively report that at least 10 plants were sealed by the agency in the first week of February. One of the sealed plant is Intent Energy located along the Yanyan Abuja Expressway. A source DPR who confirmed the development to our reporter but refused to give details, further revealed that the agency has written to the commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) seeking for collaboration as it has no power to prosecute the illegal operators. Speaking to our reporter what DPR is doing to curb the growing incidents of gas explosion especially at sales depots, the Abuja Zonal Head, Public Affairs, Muhammad Saidu insisted that such accidents occur only at illegal plants.
“There is no legally licensed gas plant that has been involved in any form of accident or glutted by fire, he said. According to him, DPR has put measures in place that ensure global safety standards, stressing that only operators who meet such standards are issued licenses. “If you hear of any gas explosion the plants are illegal,” he insisted Asked what the agency is doing to ensure that only authorised dealers sell the product, Mr. Saidu said DPR can only seal such outlets when they are discovered, but cannot arrest or prosecute the operators as they do not have the legal backing to do so.
He said the agency is currently in discussions with the NSCDC on how to collaborate to arrest and prosecute operators of illegal gas plants as well as the FCT Development Authorities who are in charge of allocation of properties. According to him, DPR has been monitoring and cracking down the illegal plants operators, but because offenders are not arrested and prosecuted they merely change their locations and continue their business. According to the Abuja Zonal DPR spokesman, only the prosecution of offenders can serve as deterrent to others and as well encourage the public to purchase cooking gas from approved marketers. “This will force the illegal operators to regularise and as well encourage people to patronise only legally licensed operators.”
Meanwhile, the zonal spokesman told our reporters that there are about 30 DPR approved LPG sales depots within the FCT, adding that new applications are being processed. He stressed that the agency demands globally accepted safety requirements for approval of gas plants. “The industry is a global industry so we adopt international best practices. There are guidelines, specifications and procedures to meet before we issue license, he said.
Adding that, “Anyone (operators) that has followed our regulations has had no problem, a lot of time when you hear of gas explosion in plants/stations, it is persons who did not yield to the requirements which means they didn’t have DPR approval. “Apart from merely issuing license we also have standard operating procedures which you must obey. Every now and then DPR officials go out to see for themselves if operators are keeping to the standards, he said.