Both gas companies reject CPC test report

  • Cite lab facility-related issues and lack of international standards
  • Note CPC soon to be a competitor
  • SJB claims CPC report shows 49:51 propane-butane
  • Geo Chem Lanka reports show Litro having 30:70 propane-butane

BY Pamodi Waravita

Both Litro Gas Lanka Ltd. and Laugfs Gas PLC yesterday (30 November), the only two players in the liquid petroleum gas (LPG) market, questioned the testing done by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) on LPG samples which were collected over the weekend, noting issues with the CPC’s laboratory testing facilities.

“We don’t recognise the credibility of the CPC to conduct tests and issue test reports as they don’t have the necessary equipment calibrated to international standards. Also, they are our competitor as the CPC is in the process of introducing their own product to the market,” a senior official at Litro Gas Lanka told The Morning yesterday, referring to the Cabinet approving the establishment of a subsidiary of the CPC to venture into the LPG business in early October.

Last Saturday (27 November), the CPC had taken two samples, of which one report had already been sent to the University of Moratuwa for review. Representatives from the Sri Lanka Accreditation Board for Conformity Assessment (SLAB) were in the CPC lab on 28 November, where 12 new gas samples were collected from the Ratnapura, Colombo, Galle, Kalutara, Kurunegala, and Gampaha Districts for testing.

Laugfs Gas Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chaminda Ediriwickrama told The Morning yesterday that Laugfs Gas cannot accept CPC test results either, as the CPC does not have the proper testing equipment nor have the samples been collected according to the globally accepted manner.

“Samples must be collected from the ports at three levels. That is how international tests are carried out,” noted Ediriwickrama.

However, over the weekend, State Minister of Co-operative Services, Marketing Development, and Consumer Protection Lasantha Alagiyawanna said that, although the CPC did not have the required testing facilities to check the quality of gas earlier this year, it has now updated its facilities and therefore can check the quality of gas.

Allegations levelled against the gas industry claim that a 50:50 butane-to-propane gas composition is dangerous to be used in a country with temperatures such as those in Sri Lanka, and that this composition deviates from the usual 30% propane and 70% butane gas composition.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian J.C. Alawathuwala yesterday claimed that the initial report by the CPC, which was sent to the University of Moratuwa, proves the accusation that the gas composition is 50% butane and 50% propane.

“Everybody knows by now that the CPC report shows that the gas composition is 49:51 propane-butane. A total of 40% of Sri Lankan families are affected by this issue. Present this report to the Parliament immediately. Why are you dragging this on?” questioned Alawathuwala in Parliament yesterday.

Opposition and SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa also said yesterday in Parliament that it is important to present the raw reports to Parliament before being subjected to amendments.

On Monday (29 November), State Minister Alagiyawanna stated that an investigative report on the series of gas cylinder-based explosions will first be reviewed by the University of Moratuwa and then the proposals and recommendations be presented to Parliament within the course of this week, despite earlier pledging to present the report to Parliament on that day (Monday).

Although The Morning contacted CPC Deputy Refinery Manager K.G.H. Kodagoda regarding the claim made by the SJB that the report shows the gas composition in LPG cylinders to be 49:51 propane-butane, he refused to comment on the matter.

However, senior officials at Litro Gas Lanka said that they have not received any official communication regarding the aforementioned test report. Furthermore, it is learnt that test reports from Geo Chem Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., the international independent inspection and testing company, show that gas samples of Litro Gas Lanka from September 2021 to November 2021 fall within the range of 30% propane and 70% butane. It is further learnt that all shipments of gas received by Litro Gas Lanka are tested by Geo Chem Lanka.

The reports, as seen by The Morning, show that the average values for the three months remain at 35.20% propane and 63.76% butane (in terms of weight).

“Litro Gas Lanka reiterates that the LPG brought into Sri Lanka meets internationally ratified compositions of propane and butane, certified and tested twice at the point of loading and unloading by Geo Chem Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd. We assure that the LPG that is loaded onto the ship at the point of the supplier is unloaded at Kerawalapitiya and stored in LPG storage spheres after which point cylinders of varied sizes are filled in the factory. The entire process, which is done under the strictest safety standards, does not involve any tampering in Sri Lanka while LPG is stored and filled into cylinders with the same specifications that they have been shipped with,” Litro Gas Lanka noted in a press release yesterday.

Furthermore, the press release said that Litro Gas Lanka possesses 8,000 metric tonnes (MT) LPG capacity, which means that a new LPG stock is required every six to seven days to meet the market demand. Thus, a new shipment of LPG arrives at the Kerawalapitiya filling plant every three to four days, ensuring that customers are given a seamless supply of LPG.

Similarly, Ediriwickrama said that Laugfs Gas too obtains test reports from the loading and discharging ports and that these reports have never shown a 50:50 gas composition. “It also does not make sense for us to increase the composition of propane, as propane is more expensive. It is not commercially viable and not profitable,” he added.

During November, several gas cylinder explosions were reported at both industrial commercial establishments as well as at the domestic household level, including two restaurants in Weligama and Colombo 7 as well as a bakery in Ratnapura. On Monday alone, three explosions were reported from Arachchikattuwa, Kegalle, and Hatton.

Last Saturday (27 November), Opposition and SJB Leader Premadasa said that former CAA Executive Director Thushan Gunawardena had alleged that the propane-to-butane ratio in gas cylinders had been changed to 50:50, while energy expert Nimal De Silva has said that by making the ratio 50:50, the pressure would change and lead to gas cylinder explosions.

Both gas companies reject CPC test report