African growth is currently exceeding global expectations and with this comes an increase in demand for products, fuels and resources, says Southern Africa Compressed Gases Association (SACGA).
“Although the continent is blessed with large amounts of fossil fuels, there is a relatively high demand for compressed natural gas (CNG) in both the industrial and commercial markets, mainly owing to supply and cost efficiency. In Africa alone, the CNG market is worth billions of dollars.”
The SACGA explains that compressed gases were introduced into European and Asian industries during the 1800s and that, with land exploration, the use of these gases spread to African colonies.
Once gases were produced in modest quantities, the process of industrialisation spurred on innovation and invention of technology to produce larger quantities of CNG, which is now used worldwide and seen as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
According to the SACGA, the Southern African CNG market has grown at a fast pace over the last five years.
“It is envisioned that the size of this market will supersede that of the North African territories. While the demand in growth is welcomed, a concern raised by the SACGA is the lack of safety and safe handling practices, particularly with new installers,” the company states.
There are three main groups of compressed gases – liquefied, nonliquefied and dissolved gas. Each group has health and safety regulations that ensure “world class” preparation and prevention in handling of these gases.
“It is vital that new installers are aware of the certification and training requirements.”
Safety and Time versus Costs
The CNG market is seen as a lucrative space, considering the growth of the market.
“Simply put, skimping on safety and time are two of the main no-go areas when it comes to handling CNG,” the SACGA explains.
Often, however, developers seek rapid and cheap installations, which can backfire. Registration by installers is required by law and any installation or changes to existing installations not covered by and carried out by a registered company and practitioner will lead to prosecution by the authorities.
“Each installer needs to be a registered South African Qualification and Certification Committee gas practitioner, and, in turn, the installation company needs to be registered with the SACGA.”
The association further elaborates that the local market is competitive, but also well regulated. Suppliers will, therefore, not supply CNG unless the installation meets the required South African National Standards safety and installation standards.