MEMAN Competency Centre Workshop Series: Enhancing Operational Safety in Nigeria’s Retail Compressed Natural Gas Sector

MEMAN Competency Centre Workshop Series: Enhancing Operational Safety in Nigeria’s Retail Compressed Natural Gas Sector

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The MEMAN Competency Centre hosted a workshop yesterday, 4th June 2024, focusing on operational safety in the retail compressed natural gas (CNG) sector. The hybrid event held at the MEMAN Secretariat in Lagos and online, brought together key stakeholders from across the industry to discuss best practices for the safe implementation and use of CNG in Nigeria.

In his opening remarks, Huub Stokman, the Chairman of MEMAN, underscored the importance of the Competency Centre’s role in supporting the entire industry. “We are talking about CNG today,” he stated. “It’s important to realize that we’ve been on this journey for a long time. Nigeria, known as the eighth-largest gas province in the world, has extensive experience with LPG, which is a crucial part of our energy mix. As we introduce CNG to the public, it’s essential to ensure it is done correctly and safely.”

Stokman highlighted the distinct differences between LPG and CNG, emphasizing the need for proper equipment, transport, and installation procedures. He stressed that the workshop aimed to share best practices and ensure the safe adoption of CNG, which is set to become a permanent fixture in Nigeria’s energy landscape. “We owe it to ourselves, our friends, and our families to introduce CNG safely,” he concluded.

Michael Oluwagbemi, the Program Director and Chief Executive of the Presidential CNG Initiative (PCNGI), addressed the attendees. Oluwagbemi described CNG as “the gas and fuel of the future for the transportation and power sectors.” He noted the Nigerian government’s commitment to transitioning to cleaner, safer, and more reliable fuel options under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Oluwagbemi acknowledged concerns regarding the safety of CNG, given its high-pressure storage requirements. However, he assured the audience of its safety, stating, “CNG is eighteen times less explosive than petrol and eight times less explosive than diesel when properly handled.” He emphasized the importance of developing a robust regulatory framework to ensure the safe handling and use of CNG, particularly in the transportation sector.

A key initiative highlighted by Oluwagbemi was the development of the Nigerian Gas Vehicle Monitoring System (NGVMS), designed to oversee safety practices in the natural gas vehicle system. This system aims to monitor everything from the inspection of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) vehicles to the conversion of non-OEM vehicles. “The NGVMS will allow us to see what actors are doing, accredit workshops, train and certify technicians, and ensure that vehicle parts used for conversion are certified and standardized,” he explained.

The PCNGI’s goal, according to Oluwagbemi, is to implement smart regulation that promotes growth and provides clear, predictable rules for safe investment. “We aim for a CNG sector with zero incidents as we seek to convert up to one million vehicles in the next three to four years,” he said, reaffirming the government’s commitment to safety during this transition.

The workshop covered essential topics, including standards for conversion kits presented by the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), maintenance of CNG vehicles by Nigerian Sinotruk Limited, safe refueling practices discussed by NIPCO and Axxela, driving precautions from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), and emergency response to gas fires by the Federal Fire Service.

The workshop concluded with remarks from Taji Ogbe, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Gas Association (NGA). Ogbe emphasized that safety in the gas industry is the top priority and highlighted the cost savings and environmental benefits of CNG compared to petrol and diesel. He also acknowledged the challenges of CNG adoption, including infrastructure and conversion costs, but emphasized that addressing these through standards and public education is crucial. Ogbe commended the efforts of MEMAN and the PCNGI and reiterated the importance of sustained information dissemination, industry engagement, and regulatory support to drive the successful and safe adoption of CNG in Nigeria.

“We must all work together to ensure that the adoption of CNG is both successful and safe,” Ogbe concluded.

This workshop marked a pivotal step in Nigeria’s journey toward a safer and more sustainable energy landscape. By bringing together industry leaders and stakeholders, the MEMAN Competency Centre is playing a crucial role in ensuring that CNG is integrated into Nigeria’s energy mix safely and efficiently.

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