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DPR plans new minimum safety certification for downstream gas vendors

Worried by the endless gas explosion and accidents in parts of the country involving downstream operators, who do business in unsafe outlets, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), is currently structuring what it described as Minimum Industry Safety Training for Downstream Operators (MISTDO) and certification.

Addressing gas vendors’ and downstream operators in Abuja recently, Director of DPR, Sarki Auwalu, said “The Department may not hesitate to use every regulator tool at its disposal, including wielding the big stick to ensure compliance.”

However, agreeing that many operators never pass through any reasonable training and certification, he revealed that a Minimum Industry Safety Training for Downstream Operators (MISTDO) would be launched to protect lives and properties.

He said the target of the scheme will include updating operators with latest safety technology so as to tame instances of fire and accidents involving gas and cylinders.

According to him, the Nigeria gas downstream sector is currently plagued by suboptimal refining capacity, neglect of inland NNPC depots, unavailability of System 2 (A-C) pipeline connectivity, and others, which have created reliance on importation of products at high cost.

Giving further explanation on the new scheme, the DPR Zonal Operation Controller, Buba Abubakar, explained that when launched, MISTDO initiative would improve operation of the downstream sub-sector, as the training would be mandatory for all operators, including LPG and haulage tanker drivers.

He noted that “Some operators are making use of untrained attendants, or use unaccredited vendors to train their attendants. This is unacceptable.”

Corroborating DPR in safety standards, Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Alexander Stephen, said the group is partnering with the DPR to sanitise the market and flush out quacks in the downstream sector.

Stephen hinted that the planned training and sanitization of the industry could take a period of three months to ensure that the market is safety for operators and the Nigerian consumers.

Nigeria as a nation in the last six months has witnessed high number of gas related accidents and explosions which peaked since July last year, when at least 50 people reportedly died, and 101 people injured as a fuel tanker trying to avoid a pothole overturned and fell off the road in Ahumbe village in Benue State.

Fast forward to October last year, many buildings were razed and people lost their lives in a double accident within few days when a tanker carrying 33,000 litres of petrol exploded at Upper Iweka, Onitsha, Anambra State.

Recall that in April last year, loaded tanker exploded at a gas and petrol station in Nasarawa State leaving 35 people dead. Same period under review, Police also confirmed two persons dead in a petrol tanker explosion at Sawmill/Onipepeye area of the Ibadan-Lagos Expressway.

In his key submission, Auwalu said while we are working on the MISTDO initiative, ending the incident may remain elusive without stakeholders’ collaboration and strict adherence to extant regulation and guidelines.