LPG cylinder swapping pushed to broaden consumer choice

Published January 21, 2021, 7:30 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The exchange and swapping of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders between and among oil companies has been proposed in LPG Industry Regulatory Framework Bill, so consumers could gain broader choices when it comes to purchasing their cooking fuels.

In the sponsorship speech of Senate Bill 1955 principal author Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who is also the chairman of the Senate committee on energy, he noted that “through the cylinder exchange and swapping program, consumers are no longer limited by the brand of LPG cylinder,” and this will enable consumers to source from various LPG players.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“The LPG Act institutionalizes the cylinder exchange and swapping program where consumers can bring any brand of empty LPG cylinder to any retail outlet and use it to purchase another brand of LPG cylinder carried by the retail outlet,” the lawmaker explained.

Beyond the swapping of LPG cylinders across industry players, Gatchalian noted that safety in the use of the product as well as its handling will have to be assured; therefore, the measure sets numerous prohibited acts and corresponding penalties to discourage irregular trade practices and activities in the sector.

He said paramount in the LPG trade is ensuring safety, given the scale of death-dealing accidents that had already given the entire industry a bad reputation because of the unscrupulous acts of some traders and players.

“Safety is crucial because LPG is highly flammable and even explosive fuel that poses a major fire hazard if not stored or handled properly,” Gatchalian stressed.

Citing data from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the solon indicated that 1,161 fire incidents between 2010 to August 2020 had been attributed to LPG explosions.

Apart from the LPG cylinder swapping, the bill also demarcates the key responsibilities of relevant government agencies in overseeing trade and business practices in the sector.

“The Department of Energy will be the primary enforcer and implementor of this Act and will serve as the primary licensing authority for qualified LPG stakeholders,” Gatchalian said; adding that the department will also be enforcing prescribed standards and codes or regulations for the industry.

“To ensure cohesive standards across all agencies, DOE is given the power to create technical working groups and technical committees involving all agencies,” the lawmaker expounded.

The other agencies that will have oversight in the sector include the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI); Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG); BFP, Land Transportation Office (LTO); Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA); Philippine National Police (PNP); Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the local government units.

The LPG Bill likewise demarcates the responsibilities of LPG industry participants – primarily for the importers, bulk suppliers, bulk distributors, haulers, refillers, trademark owners, marketers, dealers and retail outlets.

Gatchalian further stated there shall also be LPG cylinder improvement program, “which will ensure that unsafe cylinders will immediately be taken out of circulation and replaced with new cylinders that meet strict quality requirements.”