The government has finally stepped in to formulate the country's first-ever LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) operation, storage, supply, distribution and marketing regulation to ensure safety and quality in mounting usages of the fuel.
The country's energy regulator has already drafted the regulation, spelling out necessary safety measures, which would be called as the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) LPG Storage, Bottling, Transportation and Dispensing Codes and Standards, 2016.
It would cover storage, bottling, transportation and dispensing, including container, piping and associated equipment and appurtenances of LPG, a senior BERC official said.
Insurance has been made mandatory for the LPG businesses to cover any loss and damage to the public life and property due to fire or any operational reason or accident etc.
A licensee will be responsible for any mishap that takes place at his workstation or LPG outlets, on distributor's premises or during transportation of LPG due to incompetence, negligence or use of substandard material or equipment, and will be liable to compensate the loss of life and property, it spells out.
The move to ensure safety and quality use of LPG from the government came amid increasing accidents while consuming LPG alongside the government strategy to popularise its consumption across the country instead of piped gas, said a senior official concerned.
LPG-related accidents are in rise due to absence any specific regulations, he added.
The government has already stopped providing new gas connections to commercial consumers as well as suspended their load transfers to ensure piped natural gas use by consumers having value-adding capacity.
Energy and Mineral Resources Division under Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources has also prepared a policy guideline for installing LPG re-fuelling stations and conversion workshops along with their maintenance.
Under the proposed regulations LPG storage tanks could be built above and underground, and tank and tank accessories should be constructed in accordance with international standard.
The LPG container will be located outside buildings and no container or tank will be located within spill containment area.
The minimum horizontal distance between the shell of a pressurized LPG tank and the line of adjoining property, installation, building, public gathering place, heater or furnace should be not less than three to 15 meters, depending on the size and type of tanks.
The proposed regulation also spelled out a guideline too, elaborating the suitable locations where any above ground or underground LPG tankers should be installed.
It also pinpointed the qualities of equipment, like - valve, piping and hose, emergency shutoff valve, transfer pumps and compressor, electrical equipment and installations, for use in LPG tanks.
The proposed regulation said LPG should not be carried by rail. LPG in bulk should not be carried in tanker or country boat. It should not be carried by any vehicle used for transportation of public either.
Every cylinder containing gas will be securely closed to prevent any leakage.
It should be handled properly and no person should fill LPG from one cylinder or container to another cylinder or container, the proposed regulation said.
The draft of the regulation also included a set of instructions for the LPG business licensee and its customers including motorists for safety.
Once enacted, the regulation is expected to help ensure safety in LPG-related businesses, said director and CEO of Laugfs Gas Bangladesh Ltd Mohammad Saidul Islam.
Currently the country's LPG demand is around 500,000 tonnes per year, according to official data.
The state-owned LP Gas Ltd, a subsidiary of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation, produces 20,000 tonnes of LPG per year.
Five private companies -- Laugfs Gas, Totalgaz, Bashundhara, Jamuna Spacetech and Linde -- import a total of 280,000 tonnes per year from the spot market.
All together, available LPG supply in the country stands at just 300,000 tonnes per year. With a supply shortfall of around 200,000 tonnes annually, LPG prices in the domestic market have gone up substantially.