Pipelines, tanker, gas explosion to persist, except… Experts

Until more drastic and realistic approach is adopted in the petroleum industry, the quest to effectively address intermittent incidences of tanker explosion may be a mirage, experts who spoke with EnergyDay have revealed.

Investigation carried out by this medium has revealed that the economy is continuously grappling with incessant pipelines and gas explosions, which in turn have negatively impacted revenues and livelihoods.

Speaking with EnergyDay in an exclusive chat, Mr. Chinedu Okoronkwo, President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (IPMAN), bemoaned the rising spate of explosions in the country, mostly affecting IPMAN members, saying the growing challenge called for an urgent, and proactive action to curb the menace.

According to him these incidences have greatly impacted on investments in the oil and gas sector, and there is need for a concerted efforts to avoid further recurrences.

He disclosed that the House of Representatives’ adhoc Committee on Illegal Positioning of Tank Farms, Gas Plants and Filling Stations is working in collaboration with the Federal Fire Service, (FFS) and all the relevant stakeholders, to schedule a training programme starting from July 6 to August 10, 2021, across all the senatorial districts in the country for all IPMAN members.

The IPMAN President stated that the fire and safety training is for those in the retail petrol stations and liquefied petroleum gas plants. He added that the training is focusing on how to develop the best strategies and proactive approach towards the management of explosions.

He said, “More drastic and confrontational approach is required to effectively address incidences of tanker explosion. The FSS training, will go a long way in addressing these issues. Fire management and its attendant consequences are beginning to give serious threat to the nation. This will go along way in reducing if not eradicating it.
The scheduled training, he said, will teach members of IPMAN on some important safety rules and guidelines in handling oil and gas equipment and facilities. “It will help us know how to go about volatile products. We need training on how to handle fire incidences”, he added.

Mr. Okoronkwo, further disclosed that issues relating to obsolete vehicles and poor infrastructure, being major factors responsible for most of the explosions, will be addressed during the training.

“We would be engaging our members on the need to rejig their investment in infrastructure. We need to buy new trucks and tankers, and these are some of the issues we shall be discussing during the training,” he said.

Mr. Hammed Usman, Fire Explosion and Safety Engineer and Director of Safety Health and Environmental Concept, (Sheconcept), attributed cases of explosion to carelessness on the path of government agencies responsible for ensuring that safety measures are adhered strictly to by the oil and gas service providers and operators.

He said, “Incidences of fire explosions at petrol loading bays, tank farms, pipelines and other hazardous material response, fall under the industrial explosion category. There are standard regulations guiding the industrials, some of which include the Department of Petroleum Resources(DPR) and National Fire Safety act of 1963.

“All of these regulations and acts are not really enforced to the letter, to protect and prevent future recurrences of explosions. This is because of the opaque nature of the government policies. The Business Substance and Hazardous Atmosphere Regulations of 2021, were not properly implemented”, he said.

“Hydrostatic testing is expected to be done on every pressurising vessels including petrol and gas tankers, gas cylinders, to both verify integrity and detect leaks. This has to be done on these cylinders every six years.

“The owner of the truck that exploded opposite OPIC building recently in Ikeja, should be asked to present the hydrostatic test done on the truck. If found culpable he should be tried. This is another way of addressing some of these explosions.

“To avoid future explosions, the government should enforce inspection and testing every 14 months, on articulated vehicles transporting explosive petrochemicals”, he stated.

“Almost all the operators in the oil and gas industries are aware of these test and inspections, but they have continued to live as if they really don’t exist. Most of them are to ascertain the competency and integrity test of all these articulated vehicles as well as the cylinders.

“Competency test should be known from Depots where the petroleum products are lifted.

” The process of ensuring safety starts from Government’s officials. The private oil companies and marketers must also be made to comply with internal safety rules before allowing their vehicles deliver products to customers.

“There is also need to evaluate some of the safety trainings that most of the truck drivers undergo. Drivers of articulated vehicles must be subjected to competency test, apart from usual driving test. They need to be educated on how to deal with fire incidences and measures that could be taken to forestall possible explosions.

“Majority of articulate vehicles in Nigeria don’t have reasons to be on the roads, so we need to address this once and for all,” he said.

On what could be done to address incessant explosions on the short term, Usman charged Government and oil marketers to be responsible.

He also challenged the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) and others relevant agencies, to avoid rent seeking and corruption. He urged them to take conscious responsibility by conducting regular checks on integrity of most articulated trucks on our major highways.

According to him, owners and drivers of the articulated trucks must be sanctioned whenever they are found falling short of the required safety standards.

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