Pradhan for umbrella statutory body on oil and gas safety norms

Pradhan for umbrella statutory body on oil and gas safety norms

New Delhi: Pitching for an umbrella statutory body to formulate quality and safety policies for oil and gas entities, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today said the current framework of having multiple agencies is like a “khichdi”.

Currently, safety aspects of onshore or on land upstream oil and gas production installations come under Directorate General Mines Safety (DGMS) which is under Ministry of Labour.

The offshore installations come under petroleum ministry’s Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD).

On the other hand, oil refineries and pipeline come under Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) and Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) of Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion of Commerce Ministry regulates petrol pumps.

“This is a khichdi (mixture),” Pradhan said after giving away OISD safety awards for 2012-13 here.

A comprehensive, futurist looking policy that involves best global pratices and state-of-the-art technology to provide cost effective solutions needs to be evolved.

“Quality and safety issues should be under one umbrella (organisation). It is not a prestige issue for me. It is totally acceptable to me that the safety umbrella body comes under some other ministry,” he said, adding that he has beentalking to various departments to evolve a consensus.

He also questioned how OISD, which is an oil ministry arm, is the judge. “How can stakeholders become judge? Stakeholders should not become administrators or regulators,” he said.

OISD carries out safety audits of oil and gas installations, besides formulating and standardising procedures and guidelines for design, operation and maintenance.

However, the body lacks statutory authority. In August 2012, the then oil minister S Jaipal Reddy had suggested giving statutory powers to OISD but the proposal has not materialised so far.

Pradhan mentioned of a devastating fire at state gas utility GAIL India’s pipeline in Andhra Pradesh in June that

killed 15 persons, followed by a minor fire at HPCL Mittal Energy Ltd’s Bhatinda refinery where no one was injured.

Six people had died and 36 were injured after a gas leak at steel maker SAIL’s plant in Chhattisgarh on June 12.

In August last year, a fire at HPCL’ Vizag refinery in Andhra Pradesh had killed 30 persons.

A dozen persons were killed in a fire at IOC’s Jaipur oil depot on 29 December 2009.

In 2005, 24 persons lost their lives when a giant platform of ONGC in Bombay High caught fire following a supply vessel colliding with it.

“While we will inquire and go into the root cause of today’s fire, we need to seriously look at a statutory body for the oil and gas sector,” he said.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had in 1986 constituted the OISD to enhance safety in the industry.

There are hazards on account of inherent risks associated with the oil and gas industry such as extreme physical conditions in addition to potential fire and explosion from accidental release of flammable hydrocarbons.

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