Apart from natural gas being a low carbon-dioxide-emitting, affordable carbon fuel source used globally, within the Southern African context, natural gas is used in domestic, commercial, industrial and specialised environments owing to the Pressure Equipment Regulations (PERs) established to ensure safety and good practice, states safety and efficient use of methane-based-gas promoter the Southern African Gas Association (SAGA).
Established in South Africa in 2009, the PERs regulate natural gas, among other gases, and require all equipment to be verified by a designated institution before placement on the market.
According to the SAGA, there are two institutions that verify natural/ methane-rich gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) equipment, namely the SAGA and the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety Association of Southern Africa (LPGSASA).
“While the LPGSASA focuses on areas of lower volume use, typically found in domestic and commercial installations, the SAGA’s mandate is to regulate the safety of natural/methane-rich and LPG in industrial installations with gas volumes above a threshold of 0.5 GJ/h or 10 kg/h in terms of LPG, or 140 kW/h in terms of heat,” explains the SAGA.
South African Regulation Role-Players
The association notes that, in order to enforce the regulation issued through the chief inspector of the Department of Labour (DoL), the SAGA has created policies and rules that govern safe gas handling for natural gas and LPG.
“In essence, it’s illegal for a company to install, sell or take to market any natural gas/LPG product if the equipment is not registered or verified by the SAGA. “The DoL, the Department of Trade and Industry and the South African Revenue Service play a vital role in enforcing these policies and rules,” the SAGA highlights.
Moreover, the association illustrates that this regulation scheme is further aided by the SAGA on ground level, ensuring that natural gas practitioners, users and providers adhere to the PERs. “Through ongoing educational training courses, as well as public engagements, the SAGA imprints its importance of the policing and safe handling of natural gas and LPG within Southern Africa.”
Operating Under Regulation
Owing to the fact that South Africa has limited access to its own natural gas reserves, the country is reliant on imports, states the SAGA, adding that the bulk of the natural gas available in South Africa is supplied from a few key import sources.
“Mozambique, for example, contributes a significant amount of natural gas via pipeline. “Another example is through the network of South African harbours,” details the SAGA.
The association explains that transporting natural gas by means of ships is envisaged to expand rapidly, noting that, as demand increases, a large number of new importers from Asia and Europe are entering the market.
Further, while highlighting that these importers largely participate in good practice safe handling, the SAGA says there are suppliers importing equipment for use in the natural gas/methane-rich and LPG environments that are not complying with the PERs.The
SAGA comments that, in 2009, South Africa consumed 191-billion cubic feet (5.4-billion cubic metres) of natural gas, and this figure has grown substantially over the last seven years. “It is up to the SAGA to ensure the safe handling of natural/methane- rich gas and LPG from import to installation. “ Companies that work with gas should operate under regulation. This is vital as serious harm could be caused by negligent gas practice or handling,” it concludes.