200 Experts to Evaluate Safety Standards at Gas Refill Plants
The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) will deploy 200 experts to audit safety standards and security systems at gas refill plants across the country, the Minister of Energy, Mr Boakye Agyarko, has announced.
He said the move was to ensure that operators in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) industry adhered strictly to regulations for siting and operating those facilities.
“The NPA regulations state clearly that LPG plants must be sited 1,000 metres away from residential areas, while fuel stations are also to be sited 500 metres away, but operators of these plants are flouting the law. We want to get the necessary legal backing to empower the NPA to enforce these sanctions,” he stressed.
Ghana Gas board
The minister was speaking at the inauguration of a nine-member board for the Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC) in Accra on Monday.
The board is chaired by a Minister of Environment and Science in the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration, Ms Christine Churcher.
There have been a number of explosions involving LPG trucks and refill plants over the years, with the latest being the explosion at the Mansco Gas Filling Station at Atomic Junction in Accra on October 7, 2017, that claimed seven lives and injured 132 others.
Based on the unfortunate trend, there have been calls for stringent enforcement of the regulations for the siting and operation of LPG plants.
Mr Agyarko stressed that when the new gas policy currently being worked on by the government came into effect, trucks carrying LPG would no longer be allowed into residential areas.
He said bottling plants would be set up at strategic locations outside residential areas, so that cylinders would be filled and delivered to customers.
“We need to come to the sensible and logical solution of having bottling plants outside population centres. That is the way to go because operators of LPG plants ought to adhere to safety and internationally acceptable standards to guarantee the safety of the public,” he stressed.
Mr Agyarko said the new gas policy being developed by the government would empower the NPA to enforce safety standards to protect lives and property.
“For the past six months we have been working on a new policy that will ensure safety of lives and security at gas refill plants. We have done wider consultation with the appropriate stakeholders but there is some resistance from people with vested interests who say the policy will impact negatively on their businesses.
“We will make sure that the safety standards for operating and handling gas are enforced to conform to best practices,” he stressed.
The Executive Secretary of the State Enterprises Commission (SEC), Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, urged the newly constituted board of the GNGC to take bold steps to address the challenges in the LPG sector.
He also asked the board to adhere to best practices and change the narrative of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) always having to rely on the government for financial support.
For her part, Ms Churcher gave an assurance that the board would work diligently with other stakeholders in the LPG sector to clean up all irregularities in the industry.