The influence of a regulatory authority’s work over an industry like the petroleum downstream may not be as apparent, as perceived by the general Ghanaian public.
Nonetheless, as the regulator for the downstream petroleum industry, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has over the past few years been embarking on strategic initiatives that are designed to efficiently bring relevance to all industry players, while emphasizing compliance to the Authority’s standards and criteria, for operating within the downstream industry.
Safety is deliberately a constant feature in all of the Authority’s campaigns, as it endeavors to deliver maximum satisfaction to the Ghanaian consumer, as well as various stakeholders within the sector.
At the 3rd Ghana International Petroleum Conference (GHIPCON), the Chief Executive of NPA, Mr Alhassan Tampuli revealed that the sector has “contributed over GHS86 billion to Ghana’s GDP representing an average of about 8% per annum in the period 2013 to 2018”.
This is testament to the downstream petroleum industry’s significance to Ghana’s economy. The growth in consumption of “15% from 3.4million Mt in 2017 to 3.9 million Mt in 2018”, according to Mr Tampuli, makes safety a key feature in regulation.
With the petroleum downstream consisting of everything from fuel refinery to delivery to the final consumer, safe storage and transportation of products is crucial. Hence, the NPA’s Safety Campaign, which was launched in 2017.
Recent occurrences reveal this campaign’s importance, and the need to laud NPA for the initiative’s successes.
At least 50 people died, and 101 sustained severe injuries when a petrol tanker exploded in Benue, Nigeria.
Despite the lives lost and injuries caused, the damages extend beyond the accident. This confirms the potential hazard posed by Bulk Road Vehicles (BRVs).
Adherence to safety measures would have prevented this accident. But simple statements of concern aren’t enough to ensure safety.
The causes, are interrelated in a conspicuous chain of events. Media reports suggest siphoning of fuel by villagers, who live around where the BRV toppled over due to poor state of the road as the cause. But the driver’s negligence, or the BRV’s poor condition may have been the cause.
Therefore, much as the NPA and industry players are working with Roads and Highways Department to make roads motorable, the NPA is not relenting on its efforts.
To curb such occurrences, the Authority under Mr Tampuli is taking proactive measures, including; licensing of BRVs, rigorous inspection of BRVs, pre loading inspection of BRVs, training of BRV drivers, and installation of tracking devices on BRVs.
In line with NPA Act, Act 691, 2005, BRVs that fully meet licensing requirements are licensed prior to approval to load petroleum products from licensed depots. A total number of 3,468 BRVs have been licensed. But BRVs still operate illegally, causing the NPA to collaborate with the security agencies to prevent illegal operations.
Also, BRV inspection companies, with DVLA licensing have been licensed by the Authority to inspect BRVs, before they are licensed biannually.
Again, loading depots are authorized to inspect all BRVs before loading, to ensure that they have authorization and are safe to load, before allowing them to load petroleum products.
In line with the Road Traffic Regulations 2012, L.I 2180, the NPA collaborates with the DVLA and Road Safety Limited to develop modules for training and certification of BRV drivers in defensive driving and safe handling of petroleum products.
These trainings help to prevent accidents and crimes like the diesel tanker driver and his mate, who set a tanker on fire in the Eastern Region. They emptied and sold its 54,000 litre diesel load worth GHC280, 260. This theft would have cost the BRV owner so much without tracking of the BRV.
The NPA installs tracking systems on BRVs for independent monitoring to confirm delivery of petroleum products, from loading depots to various discharging points nationwide.
Current installation of,1000 more digital tracking devices to augment what exists will further restrict the criminals like the tanker driver and his mate, diverted diesel meant for Yendi, and sold the entire load before setting the BRV ablaze.
Through these strict measures, the USD12million losses recorded annually by the Unified Petroleum Price Fund (UPPF) will be prevented, and efforts increased to ensure effective and efficient distribution of fuel nationwide.
The NPA’s task is great. But under Mr Tampuli’s leadership, and staff efforts at the NPA, though daunting, the challenge posed by the expected growth of the industry is surmountable, and requires collaboration from all stakeholders.
Source: Ijahra Musah Larry