The regulator of downstream petroleum industry, National Petroleum Authority (NPA), has hinted that out of 619 Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) stations in the country, 510 are high-risk stations.
The NPA conducted risk assessment of all LPG stations across the country on the siting, engineering, equipment condition, safety management systems, staff and facility management, materials, and fabrications of these LPG stations.
It concluded that 77.4% of these LPG stations inspected nationwide were classified as high risk, 17%, that is 115 stations, were classified as medium risk, and the remaining 5%, just about four stations were recorded as low risk stations, based on the above-mentioned parameters.
To address the challenge, the NPA and its associates, at some point, converted these high risk gas stations into cylinder distribution centres, when it fully rolled out the cylinder recirculation model.
The low-risk stations, however, will be considered for auto gas refilling centres, based on the set standards.
Liquid propane gas station. LPG station for filling liquefied gas into the vehicle tanks. Environmentally friendly fuel.
Alhassan S. Tampuli, Chief Executive Officer of the NPA, disclosed this at the signing of a safety declaration certificate dubbed “People safety first” at the Authority’s premises in Accra yesterday.
The purpose of the selected theme was to raise awareness on safety operations in the petroleum downstream industry, as well as to enable the NPA respond to the frequent petroleum fires, which were occurring within the sector.
Mr Tampuli, addressing players of the industry, indicated that some unfortunate accidents that have happened in recent times, either through unavoidable accidents or negligence on the part of handlers of the equipment, resulting in the loss of precious lives, must be tackled or dealt with.
According to him, the NPA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and some other regulatory agencies are being sued “left, right and centre” by victims of such accidents, including the famous Atomic Junction, who are demanding grants and damages amounting to GH¢40 million.
“We are also seeing some court actions coming from existing industry players that they are also suing us, basically, on the safety measures we have put in place. When you put in place safety measures, you will go to court and when you don’t insist, you will still go to court,” he said.
He continued that either way they will go to court, but there was one action that when they take, it will minimise the impact – to avoid needless deaths.
According to Mr. Tampuli, the various regulatory agencies will rather be in court than to wait for an accident to occur, since nobody can bring back lives lost through these disasters.
Mr Tampuli also raised questions about the country’s planning system, since some were already sited at specific locations before communities developed around them.
“We are looking at ways and means to address these challenges, because, when you have such safety requirements of the existing stations, you don’t come and grant [a] permit for a school to be built next to a station.”
The NPA CEO added that the Authority expects the public to understand the risks and dangers of not keeping petroleum products safely, and should adhere to the safety precautions being propagated.
The Deputy Minister for Energy, Joseph Cudjoe, indicated that the industry cannot exist efficiently without adherence to safety protocols.
In view of this, he said the National Petroleum Safety Campaign was launched in 2017 by the Regulator to draw attention to the collective responsibility of the industry to operate safely.
“This culminated in the signing of a Safety Declaration Placard by the industry to commit to safe operations. In order to sustain this practice, the National Petroleum Safety Campaign is being sustained this year to raise awareness of our collective responsibility to safety of the industry and consumers,” he stated.
He also used the occasion to caution the general public to be sensitive to their surroundings, and be bold to resist the temptation of patronising services of stations that expose them to extreme danger.