Beginning this month expired LPG cylinders are being removed from circulation 

Coodking Gas: Officials from the trade department and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd have said that the LPG cylinders circulating in Bhutan are safe.

“The message that have been circulated in Bhutan that Bhutan could be using some expired cylinders are untrue, ”deputy general manager of LPG (liquid petroleum gas), West Bengal, S Lakshmi Narayanan, who was in the capital to attend a workshop on “safe handling of LPG”, said. The workshop was held on Friday in Thimphu.

The workshop was organizsed by the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd to address questions and public perceptions following the recent audit report on LGP cylinders.

The audit report’s special report on import and distribution of LPG and kerosene, revealed that 74,460 expired cylinders circulated in the market, posing threat to lives and properties.

The report also stated that on physical verification of LPG cylinders, the RAA found expired cylinders in stock.

However, officials said there is “nothing like expired cylinders”, but that LPG cylinders should be retested after 10 years from the manufacture date.

Officiating trade director Dophu Tshering said the term expiry was applicable only in other goods like medicines and not on LPG. “The use of word expiry on LPG is misleading,” he added.

Dophu Tshering said the workshop was necessary as it was important to clarify to the public following the findings of the audit report.

S Lakshmi Narayanan said the Indian Oil Corporation makes sure that the cylinders sent to India for refilling are tested before they are refilled.

He said the abbreviations A, B, C and D inscribed on the cylinders denote quarters of the year and not shelf life of the product.

They denote testing dates for the cylinder. For example, code A09 on the cylinder means it is due for testing in the first quarter of 2009 and not the expiry date of the cylinder shelf life, he said.

“Every cylinder is tested properly to ensure safety,” S Lakshmi Narayanan said. “However, the customers should be aware when the gas is due for testing,” he added.

According to trade officials, who also agree that the cylinders are safe, no untoward incident has ever occurred in Bhutan due to expiry issues.

The deputy general manager said that the cylinders have to be tested after 10 years from the date of manufacture and every five years thereafter.

“A cylinder hardly lasts over 15 years,” he said.

After testing, the cylinders will be put into circulation, but those failing the test will be rejected.

The department has already taken action and regional offices will ensure that circulation of ”expired cylinders” are stopped from July 1.

The cylinders will be tested and re-qualified within the stipulated period by M/S North Bengal Cylinders, Fata Pukar, Raj Ganj, West Bengal. Further, The trade department has already written to the Indian Oil regional offices in Kolkatta and Guwahati to not refill any expired cylinders in their LPG bottling plants namely Raninagar, West Bengal Sarpara, Guwahati and Bitkuchi, Assam.

The department has requested all LGP consumers to surrender expired LPG cylinders to the respective petroleum and lubricants (POL) dealers so that testing can be done within the stipulated time.

Earlier, the trade department had notified that people should not hoard their LPG cylinders as the cylinders need to be tested and pre-qualified periodically.

As of November 30, 2014, there were 203,364 cylinders in circulation, 181,435 cylinders issued to public and 21,929 cylinders with distributors. There had been an increase in import of LPG from 2008 to 2012 and decrease in 2013.

The workshop was attended by trade officials and representatives of LPG distributors from across the country.

By MB Subba