Rampant cases of incidents in the downstream sector of oil and gas industry has become a source of concern to the Federal Government, stakeholders, regulatory agencies and investors as the effect of the menace has led to loss of lives and properties.
According to the sector regulator, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), about 70 per cent of accidents in the Nigerian oil and gas industry between 2013 and 2019 occurred in the downstream sector.
Indeed, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), recently disclosed that the country lost over N39 billion to tanker and trailer- related road crashes in 2018.
This was even as members of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) blamed some of the incidents on the deplorable state of Nigerian roads.
According to FRSC, Nigeria lost about N7.157 billion to road accidents involving 116 petroleum product tankers in the first half of 2018. The Corps Marshal, FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi, revealed at a stakeholders’ meeting with tank farm operators, with the theme “Safe Haulage Vehicle Operations in Nigeria’’ that a total of 650 tankers and trailers were involved in the crashes in 2018, with over 90 percent of the affected vehicles having been used for haulage transportation for over 30 years.
This revenue loss and its attendant effect on the economy, untimely and avoidable deaths happen to have led to series of intervention by stakeholders to reduce the carnages on our roads. It was for this reason and many more that DPR decided to take the bull by the horn in a bid at halt this monster capable of bring the industry to its kneels with the launch of the Minimum Industry Safety Training for Downstream Operations (MISTDO) in Lagos last week.
According to Oyeyemi, the introduction of safe-to-load programme in the distribution of major petroleum products was aimed at ensuring that only vehicles in good condition were allowed to transport both wet and dry cargoes on the roads. He said the vehicles must also be driven by qualified and competent drivers to ensure safety on the roads. “Haulage has become the most utilised way of inter-city movements of goods and services, while the country consumes an estimated 60 million litres of refined petroleum products per day,’’ he said.
He said the vehicles must also be driven by qualified and competent drivers to ensure safety on the roads. The Corps Marshal added that FRSC officials deployed to tank farms across the country were also trained and retrained to ensure compliance with the standard by fleet operators, adding that the Corps would conduct investigations on all fatal accidents involving trailers and tankers, with a view to unravelling the causes and proffering preventive measures to appropriate authorities. He identified the use of unlicensed motor boys as drivers, absence of lane discipline, indiscriminate parking along the major corridors, use of additional lights at night and non-usage of retro-reflective tapes to enhance visibility at night as some of the prevailing challenges.
The FRSC boss said periodic checks of haulage vehicles at loading points by the taskforce committee was critical to regularly ascertain the safety status and compliance level of vehicles.
In his contribution to the debate, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Major Oil Marketers’ Association of Nigeria, Clement Isong, said safety was one of the main priorities in petroleum business.
Isong said all hands must be on deck to ensure that the safe-to-load programme was adhered to, by all stakeholders.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Aloga Ogbogo, said the safe-to-load programme initiated by the Corps Marshal would ensure sanity on the roads and the haulage sector generally.
He called for the review of weigh bridges to ensure that articulated vehicles were loaded according to their capabilities.
“The weigh bridges will address the issue of safe-to-load initiative, especially the wet cargoes. And mostly, all the articulated vehicles drivers are not using glasses; does that mean they all have good eyesight? Using glasses does not mean you cannot drive.
At the same time, putting a good truck on a bad road can also damage such a truck within few years, other things being equal. Therefore, necessary things must be put in place to ensure that the safe-to-load programme is perfected,’’ he said.
DPR steps in with MISTDO
Director, DPR, Mr.Sarki Auwalu, at the launch of MISTDO said the program was designed by the Department to deepen safety training in the downstream sector of the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
According to him, the growth of Nigeria’s downstream sector has resulted in increase of incidents leading to loss of lives, damage to properties and environmental pollution.
‘‘To reverse this trend, the Department has put in place enhanced regulatory strategies for downstream facilities’ development and operations monitoring targeted at the people, the process and the equipment. MISTDO Program is specially designed to target the People i.e. workers in the downstream sector including Petroleum tanker drivers and motor boys.
This is because investigations into reported incidents in the sector show that the underlining cause is poor safety culture of workers and lack of knowledge which revealed serious training gaps. These training gaps have made it difficult for workers to prevent or mitigate incidents when they occur, thereby escalating its consequence.
Although the Department has ensured that companies responsible for such accidents develop a robust training program for its workers as part of the corrective actions implemented, MISTDO offers a more proactive and holistic approach to adequately equip workers with basic safety trainings in their workplace by leveraging technology.’’
He maintained that mandatory staff training requirements for downstream operations is not new as this is one of the requirements for license to operate a downstream facility, adding that, in 2016, the government introduced safety clearance policy which provide the basis for MISTDO program.
According to him, the implementation of MISTDO program is based on relevant petroleum laws and regulations.
For instance, he disclosed that Section 5(c) of the Mineral Oils (Safety) Regulations – MOSR, 1997 requires every appointed manager to “ensure that all competent persons appointed to supervise oil field operations and maintenance of Petroleum facilities and process plants are given appropriate training for the efficient and safe performance of their jobs”.
Auwalu explained that MISTDO program mandates all downstream workers to undergo safety trainings at any DPR approved and published safety training provider of their choice in accordance with their job roles and the likely hazards they will encounter at work. The trainings, he said, are categorized into different modules and levels which are dependent on the category of workers and each module/level has a fixed validity period, stating that the Department has established a robust portal which connects operators, prospective trainees, the Department and approved training providers.
Increased awareness in safety and risks associated with operations in the sector, improve knowledge and general competence level in the sector, standardise basic safety training requirements for personnel across the sector, serve as a guide for prospective trainees in basic safety; and provide a platform to effectively monitor and regulate basic safety training activities in the sector.
The DPR boss said compliance monitoring of the program by the Department will begin as soon as approved MISTDO training providers are published on the portal.
‘ ‘Effective 1st September 2020, the Department shall commence enforcement of MISTDO for all downstream operations and facilities including LPG stations, retail outlets, Petroleum Product depots, jetties, lube plants, industrial gas users and petroleum truck drivers and motor boys in the following states – Lagos, Ogun, Edo, Rivers, Imo, Enugu, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Nasarawa and Gombe. This implies that NO personnel shall be permitted to engage in downstream operations without MISTDO training at facilities located in these states. Effective 1st January 2021, compliance shall be extended nationwide. In addition, effective 1st January 2021, the staff training requirements for every downstream facility operations license or Permit (New or Renewal) shall be based on MISTDO.’’