Pakistan’s Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority Rejects Safety Measures for Propane Tanks

People waiting to have their tanks refilled in Rawalpindi, where propane is used for everything from cooking and home heating to motor fuel. (image: thenews.com.pk)

Pakistan’s Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) dismissed regulation changes that would’ve required propane distributors to pass a safety test to become registered under OGRA’s list of approved distributors, PakTribune reported today.

After a string of tank explosions and accidents injured several Pakistanis, some of them fatally, the Authority said they were creating a safety checklist distributors would have to abide by. The policy would have served to eliminate the circulation of old, corroding hazardous LPG cylinders and diminish the illegal practice of decanting.

Decanting is an extremely dangerous method of transferring propane from one container to another. It’s a widespread problem in Pakistan and many neighboring countries that claims thousands of lives every year. Because propane is such a popular fuel in Pakistan, unlicensed “distributors” have found decanting to be quite lucrative.

Despite clear risks, OGRA has scrapped the new safety policy. Instead, they’re scolding distributors for dealing in questionable equipment and shady practices, and calling on these companies to fix the problem themselves. Acting Chairman Mansoor Muzaffar spoke to a convention of propane distributors on Monday, warning of punishment and revoked licenses for distributors who don’t clean up their act.

“If you [the distributor’s association] don’t accept registration, then you should avoid the dangerous practice of decanting which forces the authority to take measures like registration,” Muzaffar said.

According to the Chairman’s statement on OGRA’s website, the organization was created “to foster competition, increase private investment and ownership in the petroleum industry, protect the public interest while respecting individual rights and provide effective and efficient regulations.”

OGRA is funded by taxpayers and has a hand in setting Pakistan’s propane prices.

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