President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law regulating the liquefied petroleum gas industry and giving the Department of Energy “exclusive authority” to issue licenses to operate in the LPG industry.
Republic Act 11593 or the LPG Industry Regulation Act, signed on Oct. 14, also tasked the DOE with developing liquefied petroleum gas refilling plants and a centralized piping system, among others.
It also outlined the responsibilities of industry participants, bulk suppliers, haulers, refillers, dealers, and retail outlets.
LPG refers to commercial propane gas, butane gas, or a mixture of the two.
Sen. Win Gatchalian, sponsor of the law, said LPG accounted for 12 percent of the country’s demand for petroleum products in 2019.
More than 8 million Filipino households or approximately 40 percent use LPG for cooking, he said, quoting the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The LPG Industry Regulation Act seeks to ensure efficacious safety and competition standards for LPG, Gatchalian said.
Within six months of the effectivity of the law’s implementing rules and regulations, government agencies, industry participants, government, consumer groups and other stakeholders shall come up with an LPG Cylinder Exchange and Swapping Program.
This shall include among others the procedure and timeline for swapping and buyback of LPG cylinders, the computation of their depreciation, and establishment of swapping centers.
This “will ensure that unsafe cylinders will immediately be taken out of circulation and replaced with new cylinders that meet strict quality requirements,” Gatchalian said earlier.
The law also listed penalties for prohibited acts like underfilling of LPG cylinders, tapering with their markings, and sale of adulterated liquefied petroleum gas.
The city or town where an industry participant’s principal place of business is located shall be allotted a 40 percent share of proceeds from fines and penalties. The energy department shall use the remaining 60 percent to implement the law, it said.
“Safety is crucial because LPG is a highly flammable and even explosive fuel that poses a major fire hazard if not stored or handled properly. According to the Bureau of Fire Protection there were 1,161 reported fire incidents between 2010 and August 2020 attributed to LPG explosions,” the senator said in January.
He said the Cylinder Exchange and Swapping Program would also allow consumers to bring any brand of empty LPG cylinder to a retail outlet and use it to purchase a different.
Various versions of this legislation languished in Congress since 2004, Gatchalian noted.