The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria, on Thursday, Sept. 23, announced the arrest of eight persons over illegal decanting of liquified petroleum gas (LPG).
The current insecurity challenges in the state, coupled with the attacks on electricity installation that have plunged the state into nearly a year of darkness, makes the use of LPG critical to the microeconomic life of the people.
But by the rules of DPR, only standard gas plants are authorised to decant gas cylinders used by consumers. Decanting is the process of filling smaller or non-industrial cylinders for end-use.
DPR said it is not only illegal but highly dangerous for local dealers to decant or fill up gas cylinders at the point of direct sales to customers. Officials at DPR said most of the causes of fire outbreaks, especially in commercial locations, are caused by dealers who are involved in illegal decanting.
Those dealers are supposed to go to gas plants and get all their empty cylinders filled before going to directly sell the same to customers.
“They don’t have the rights or authorisation to refill empty cylinders in their shops,” said Agada Onuminya, Northeast Zonal Operation Controller of DPR.
DPR had on Thursday, in collaboration with the officials of NSCDC, conducted spot-checks on illegal dealers of LPG around Maiduguri, the state capital, where illegal decanting was severally reported
The petroleum regulatory agency said it arrested at least eight major LPG dealers who were not only decanting illegally but also using substandard pipes in the process.
The Zonal Operation Controller told HumAngle in an exclusive interview, that “several sensitisations have been conducted by the department on the dangers of operating illegal decanting of LPG yet many had refused to heed. We conducted spot-checks on illegal dealers of LPG, in collaboration with officers of the NSCDC to bring the culprit to book.”
“Today, we have eight people who were arrested by the NSCDC and have confiscated several 100-150kg cylinders, weighing scales/balances and decanting devices.”
“The DPR acknowledges the remarkable negative impacts the activities of illegal LPG dealers and cylinder refillers (decanters) could have on the acceptability of the LPG due to unsafe handling and grave danger they pose to lives and properties.”
Onuminya said the Nigerian government, in its efforts at adopting renewable energy and clean fuel, has in recent years promoted policies and actions that “demonstrated the will and push to harness the enormous gas resources”.
“And we at the department of petroleum resources have in collaboration with critical stakeholders, being in the front of the drive for optimal value derivation and domestic utilisation of LPG.”
The Zonal Coordinator said the Northeast sub-region with unique mostly dry seasons and the challenge of deforestation is critical for the promotion of the Nigerian government agenda on the promotion of LPG usage.
The DPR insisted that abuses and standards violation in the use of LPG may lead to hazardous accidents like explosions and fire disasters which could sabotage the government’s quest for the buy-in of local users of cooking gas.
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