ENERGY MATTERS

Cooking gas users now have to stick to their brands

In Summary

• New LPG regulations attack counterfeit market and create safety guarantees to draw consumers off firewood that is driving respiratory disease as Kenya’s biggest killer.

• In a raft of new regulations,  EPRA director general Pavel Oimeke said the move aimed at enhancing user safety will also address illegal refilling, illegal re-branding and counterfeiting of gas cylinders.

Energy Regulatory Commission Director General Pavel Oimeke when he appeared before the Senate energy Committee over the sixteen percent VAT on petroleum products/FILEr
Energy Regulatory Commission Director General Pavel Oimeke when he appeared before the Senate energy Committee over the sixteen percent VAT on petroleum products/FILEr

It will no longer be mandatory for Liquefied Petroleum Gas traders retailers to swap any brand of cylinder, Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority announced yesterday

In a raft of new regulations,  EPRA director general Pavel Oimeke said the move aimed at enhancing user safety will also address illegal refilling, illegal re-branding and counterfeiting of gas cylinders.

In the new regulation, LPG brands will now be responsible for guaranteeing the safety of every cylinder.

The brands, which will only swap their cylinders for new ones through their own branded retail points, must also add safety instructions onto each cylinder, including guides on what to do if consumers smell a gas leak.

“The mandatory interchange of LPG cylinders has seen brands lose track of 90 per cent of the cylinders they had invested in, stalling investment and legal checks set aside as nameless re-fillers resell cylinders without accounting for safety breaches,” Oimeke said.

He added that EPRA will no longer tolerate any gas cylinder that has not been properly checked between refills and is not fully labelled for safety and traceability.

In addition to the new regulations, government plans to increase LPG imports and storage at Mombasa, while the industry is increasing its investments in LPG cylinders six-fold.

The changes come as part of a government drive to position LPG as Kenya’s primary cooking fuel to end the health and environmental problems caused by cooking with firewood and charcoal.

Olagoke Aluko, chairman of the Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA) said tough regulations will see the end of illegal cylinder refilling in Kenya and will open the way for a projected seven-fold increase in LPG usage.

The PIEA, which represents the country’s oil and gas industry, is working with government and regulators to achieve a widespread switch over to LPG, at a time when more than 70 per cent of Kenyans are still using firewood and charcoal for cooking.

“The pollution that dirty cooking fuels are creating in the home is killing tens of thousands of Kenyans a year,” Aluko said.

Estimates suggest some 21,650 Kenyans are dying every year from air pollution, and 40 per cent of childhood deaths are being caused by respiratory diseases triggered by indoor cooking pollution. ‘’The country’s dependency on firewood and charcoal, which has remained larger than for other countries in Africa as a result of disorders in the Kenyan LPG market,’’ he said.

Last year, Kenya subsidised importation of gas cylinders and even a cooking gas programme targeting mostly rural counties.

This saw Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) announce an investment of $125 million (Sh12.5 billion) to construct a 20,000-tonne common user import storage facility.

The facility to be located at the Kenya Petroleum Refinery and connected to the new Kipevu Oil Terminal is expected to make it easy for large vessels to dock and discharge cargo fast enough to save the country from demurrage costs.

The facility, which is planned for completion in 2020, is expected to enhance the LPG supply, distribution and storage infrastructure and increase the use of the clean energy.