''Taken from the Manilla Bulletin Publishing Company - www.mb.com.ph
Article by Myrna M. Velasco''

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Global players in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) industry see things the same way, as they contend that the major first step in instituting safety practices in the sector would be to take out defective cylinders or to discontinue their circulation in the market.

This was a consensus reaffirmed by industry players and government regulators, either from regulated or deregulated markets, when they presented their respective experiences in dealing with challenges of growing LPG markets.

The Philippines acknowledged that it shared such dilemma, noting that of the 12 million cylinders circulating in the country; about 3.0 million are due for scrapping, while another 3.0 million are for requalification.

The continued patronage of LPG products in substandard cylinders, are labeled as ‘virtual time bombs’ as they pose high degree of danger to consumers, primarily as trigger to fire incidents, Philippine Department of Energy (DoE) director Zenaida Y. Monsada said.

In her presentation at the 22nd World LPG Forum here, she noted that existing weak regulatory framework still prevents enforcement of discipline in the market, especially in bids at stripping the market off of unscrupulous players, including those selling products in defective cylinders.

Filipino consumers, Ms. Monsada said, are being tricked at patronizing the sellers of substandard LPG because of lower price offers. But she cautioned “cheaper LPG tanks are usually substandard and under-filled. In short, the poor are exposed to safety hazards and have bigger chances of not getting their money’s worth.” The eventual passage of a pending legislation is seen as the ultimate key to bringing in stricter discipline in the Philippine LPG industry.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s experience in scrapping and re-qualifying LPG cylinders is one classic case that sets prescriptive lessons for countries which are still trailing the path into enforcing safety guidelines in their respective LPG markets.

Since the deregulation of its market in 1996, Brazil logged in about 100 million 13-kilogram LPG cylinders in circulation; 95 percent of which are with household users.

Mr. Ivo Gastaldoni of Brazil’s Nacional Gas shared that the country’s regulatory agency enforced strict measures in re-qualification as well as in requiring LPG players to abide by the rules set for the industry.

For instance, at the distributor level, Brazil regulations require that distributors “must fill and commercialize only cylinders in which the brand is stamped on its body.” Additionally, it has been prescribed that the commercialization of cylinders must also require that they have inviolability seal of the flow valve that has the distributor’s name with certification from duly authorized agency.

South Africa, for its part, emphasized on the need to “respect the brand;” emphasizing that cross-filling must not be allowed arbitrarily because this equally presents risks to end-users.

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