Speaking at the launch of the National Petroleum’s Safety Campaign dabbed ‘People Safety First’ to help curb petroleum related incidents in the country, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Petroleum Authority, Mr. Hassan Tampuli said the national safety campaign was aimed to raise awareness of the need to adhere to safety rules when handling petroleum products.
“The campaign is also to educate the public on their role in preventing fires at all petroleum installations and other locations in the country,” he added.
Among other things, he said the National Petroleum Safety Campaign is expected to embark on a door-to-door LPG safety programme to educate operators of restaurants, hotels and ‘chop-bars’ in all regions of Ghana.
Reports also indicate that, about 40% of patients who report to the Plastic Surgery and Burns Center of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital suffered petroleum product-related accidents.
Mr. Tampuli noted that, “The Authority has constituted a committee to oversee the activities of a task force that will undertake a comprehensive risk assessment of the existing LPG infrastructure in the country.”
Saying, the criteria for categorizing the stations into low or high risk, will includes; *Siting/Location of station: where the compatibility of the station with surrounding activities will be physically assessed to inform the ranking of the facility. And the station must also meet the required minimum safety distances.
*Engineering Design and Infrastructure: The facility layout and the engineering shall conform to strict standards. Material of construction shall be appropriate and non-combustible with the requisite anti-fire or resistant properties. Facilities without the incorporation of active safety systems shall be closed down to avoid any loss of containment incidents.
*Operations and Management: The assessment will also cover the operations and general management of the facility. All staff within the facility should demonstrate adequate knowledge of handling LPG and the standard operating procedures.
*High-risk stations will be closed down while low-risk stations will be designated for the supply of gas for vehicles with improved standards.
The CEO continued that, the NPA in collaboration with other agencies including the Ghana National Fire Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and Factories Inspectorate Department have so far inspected 276 LPG refilling plants in the country out of the 636 distributed across the country.
Indicating that, 45 of the stations have been closed down due to non-compliance while 37 others have been marked for closure when the level of their stocks reduce to levels within the safety zone.
“Twenty-six (26) outlets have been reopened after comprehensive inspections were carried out by the Inspections and Monitoring unit of the Authority. One Hundred and fourteen outlets (114) were found to be in full compliance with the prescribed safety standards. Out of the 636 registered number of refilling plants, fifty-four (54) is not in operation,” he noted.
He further revealed that, the NPA will soon publish the licensing requirements for setting up LPG Bottling Plants as part of efforts to ensure that the cylinder recirculation model of LPG distribution comes into force in one year as directed by Cabinet earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the Energy Minister, Hon. Boakye Agyarko in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Minister of Energy, Hon. Amin Adam said, there is a call on all to make safety the key word in handling petroleum products to reduce, if not eliminate the reported cases of fires associated with it.
According to him, the petroleum products which the NPA regulates, affects a very large segment of the population financially or safety wise, hence the interest shown by the media, organized labour and other civil society groups on matters of safety.
He said, one of the greatest challenges to the downstream petroleum industry is perhaps, its inability to match the upstream industry in the area of safety and security. Adding that, since operating at the very end of the petroleum value chain, our proximity to human populations, their health and safety and consequently, their property, the requirements for improved safety standards places us on the duty to be more responsible.
Citing the recent unfortunate petroleum related explosions, he said, it should remind us vividly about the enormity of the challenge.
Hon. Agyarko went on to say that, in spite of the dangers of poor safety and regulatory regimes, our regulators continue to allow special interests to undermine their enforcement of safety regulations; putting the lives and property of people on the line; and consequently, projecting the petroleum industry as insensitive, irresponsible and only motivated by profits. “We must act now,” he stressed.
“I would like to therefore, encourage industry players to take the bold step of formulating industry safety standards through industry associations and peer review each other, and where necessary delist your peers who are not keeping up with your standards. This will not only complement the role of our regulators but will embolden them to take decisive disciplinary actions against offending industry players based on industry recommendations,” he emphasised.
That not withstanding, he said, the NPA has not relented at all in its public education programmes, aimed at equipping consumers with the knowledge of how to safely handle and use petroleum products which turn to frighten people of its usage. Adding, it is essential therefore that, the NPA has deemed it imperative to intensify its public education campaign on the safe use and handling of this product.
The sector Minister therefore urged the NPA and other Regulators of the downstream petroleum industry, to intensify their inspection regime to ensure safety compliance in the industry.
“It is in this light that my Ministry has given the green light for the NPA to partner with relevant stakeholders to deploy 200 safety auditors to augment the already existing safety measures to ensure safety standards at various petrol, diesel and Gas Stations across the country,” he further stressed.
Let opportunity to remind the general public to eliminate complacency and familiarity but uphold the safety rules in dealing with petroleum products because petroleum products are safe when used safely.
In attendance at the launch were the MD of TOR, Mr. Isaac Osei, Board Chairman of NPA, Mr. Joseph Addo-Yobo as the chairman of the occasion, AOMC Industry Coordinator, Mr. Kwaku Agyemang Duah, the GNFS PRO, Prince Billy Anaglate to represent the National Chief Fire Officer, various Transporters, stakeholders and to name a few.