The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on Tuesday intensified efforts to curtail the incidence of gas explosion in Lagos State with the closure of seven Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) plants.
The oil and gas industry regulator said the affected LPG (cooking gas) plants were sealed for not complying with the prerequisite safety standards and operating without valid licenses.
The sealed gas stations are situated in locations across Lagos Island and Lagos Mainland.
Eight employees of the sealed gas plants were also arrested by officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), which collaborated with the DPR in the exercise.
Mr Ayorinde Cardoso, DPR Zonal Operations Controller, Lagos, said the LPG plants were shut down for various reasons including operating within densely populated areas and under high tension electrical installations.
Cardoso said some of the sealed facilities did not meet the minimum 15 meters distance required for such operations, which was a critical safety requirement.
He said that the sealed plants were also operating without approval or licence from the DPR, adding that the agency would continue to clamp down on such illegal plants.
Cardoso said: “We are here on surveillance assignment because the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, has declared this year as the Year of Gas.
“So, we want to make sure that all operators in this line of business abide by the rules and regulations.
“We don’t want the market to be compromised with sharp practices, and that is why we are stepping up surveillance.”
He maintained that the DPR would not allow LPG retailers to operate under unsafe conditions, to forestall any disastrous consequence.
Cardoso said that DPR was collaborating with the NSCDC to enforce compliance with the closure order because the agency itself had no power to arrest or prosecute defaulters.
He said the agency was committed to improving safety in the oil and gas industry, especially with the recent inauguration of the Minimum Industry Safety Training for Downstream Operations (MISTDO) programme.
“MISTDO is coming on board to encourage the licensed operators to give basic training to their employees, and we still monitor these licensed facilities to ensure compliance.
“We want to deepen the LPG sector, and to do that, we must increase our surveillance, to weed out the illegal operators,” Cardoso said.
Similarly, Mr Fasiu Adeyinka, Lagos State Commandant, NSCDC, said the corps was partnering DPR to bring sanity to the LPG sector.
He appealed to Nigerians to assist the agency in reporting illegal facilities operating within their areas, to avert tragedies caused by gas explosions.