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LPG suppliers to boycott illegal retailers
The Petroleum Institute of East Africa has today announced new measures against illegal cylinder refilling and retailers, to put them permanently out of business, with the country’s leading LPG suppliers saying they will boycott retailers who continue to resell their cylinders with other people’s gas in them.
“There is no ‘six-month transition period’ on illegal cylinder refilling,” said Mr. Olagoke Aluko, Chairman of the Petroleum Institute of East Africa, the professional body for the oil and gas industry. “It is illegal. It is ending. And anyone who wants to carry on in the face of a Sh10m fine and five years in prison will find that the legitimate LPG producers will not issue them a supply arrangement and will permanently boycott them.”

The LPG suppliers have moved to blacklist the illegal retailers as confusion has grown about the six-month transition period under the new LPG industry regulations gazetted in June 2019. The regulations allow marketing companies until December to return their competitors’ cylinders. The marketers also have until year-end to put safe-use information onto each cylinder and to submit records of their current cylinder stocks to EPRA.
However, “allowing the legitimate industry time to return collected cylinders and implement the new safety rules doesn’t give illegal practitioners some extra window of time for illegality – the filling and hoarding of other brand’s LPG cylinders is illegal and the fines and jail terms are in force,” said the PIEA Chairman. “Illegal refillers need to return any cylinders they have to the brand owners and cease operations, or the penalties will now be severe. There is no extra time.”
Under the new regulations, retailers must now have an agreement with the brands they stock that is proven by a letter and must be applying to EPRA for a licence. “However, we will not issue brand agreements to retailers who are still sending our branded cylinders to illegal refillers,” said Mr Aluko.
The boycotting announcement by the LPG suppliers comes as the LPG regulator, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA), has mobilised more than 80 inspection officers and started working with county governments to seek out and close down illegal refilling facilities.

The agency is also providing inspection briefs to other regulatory bodies including Kenya Bureau of Standards, Anti- Counterfeit Agency (ACA), Kenya Revenue Authority, Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety, National Environment Management Authority and County Executive Committees in energy, environment, and health across the country.

Prior to the new regulations, three-quarters of the LPG bought in Kenya was being provided by illegal refillers, according to data from the World Bank.

“The cost to citizens of unregulated refilling was intolerable. The safety breaches set Kenya back in its rate of LPG adoption and deterred investment in the industry on confused liability cases. This has seen Kenyans suffering more severely than other African countries from respiratory diseases and mortalities caused by the prolonged reliance on indoor cooking with firewood and charcoal. For all of these reasons, we welcome EPRA’s moves and will do all in our power to support the agency as it moves to close these illegal filling operations permanently,” said Mr. Aluko.
Government moves to solve LPG cylinder crisis

New LPG regulations attack counterfeit market and create safety guarantees to draw consumers off firewood that is driving respiratory disease as Kenya’s biggest killer

The government has approved new LPG regulations to restore safety to the LPG market by closing down opportunities for illegal refilling, illegal rebranding, and counterfeiting of gas cylinders. The changes come as part of a government drive to position LPG as Kenya’s primary cooking fuel to end the health and environmental problems caused by cooking with firewood and charcoal.

Unveiling the new regulations today, Mr Pavel Oimeke Director General of the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) said it will no longer be mandatory for LPG retailers to swap any brand of cylinder.

“The mandatory interchange of LPG cylinders has seen brands lose track of 90 per cent of the cylinders they had invested in, stalling investment in further cylinders, and seeing legal checks set aside as nameless refillers resold cylinders, but could not be made accountable for safety breaches,” said Mr Oimeke.

LPG brands will now be responsible for guaranteeing the safety of every cylinder. The brands, which will only swap their cylinders for new ones through their own branded retail points, must also now add safety instructions onto each cylinder, including guides on what to do if consumers smell a gas leak.

“Elsewhere in the world, LPG dominates in rural areas as a clean and safe fuel. Moving to regulations that will see the end of illegal cylinder refilling in Kenya will open the way for a projected seven-fold increase in LPG usage,” said Mr Olagoke Aluko Chairman of the Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA).

The PIEA, which represents the country’s oil and gas industry, is now working with government and regulators to achieve a widespread switchover to LPG, at a time when more than 70 per cent of Kenyans are still using firewood and charcoal for cooking.

“The pollution that dirty cooking fuels are creating in the home is killing tens of thousands of Kenyans a year,” said Mr Aluko. “Estimates suggest some 21,650 Kenyans are dying every year from air pollution, and 40 per cent of childhood deaths are being caused by respiratory diseases triggered by indoor cooking pollution.”

The country’s dependency on firewood and charcoal, which has remained larger than for other countries in Africa as a result of the recent disorder in the Kenyan LPG market, has also eroded the country’s forests, with illegal logging damaging its main water catchment forests, and the nation now suffering a 16m m3 shortfall in its wood supply each year.

“LPG is actually a cheaper cooking fuel than firewood, charcoal or kerosene on a meal-by-meal sum and gets families back to clean homes and good health, saving our forests and our water supply too,” said Mr Aluko.

Government, industry and regulators are therefore now working to make LPG the primary cooking fuel in Kenya. In addition to the new regulations, government plans to increase LPG imports and storage at Mombasa, while the industry is increasing its investments in LPG cylinders six-fold.

“To this end, the EPRA will no longer tolerate any gas cylinder that has not been properly checked between refills and is not fully labelled for safety and traceability,” said Mr Oimeke.