Premadasa requests April gas cylinder reports

  • Claims reports prove 50:50 propane-to-butane ratio
  • Alagiyawanna to present his report today

By Pamodi Waravita

Following the series of gas cylinder explosions around the country, Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa has requested the Government to publicise three reports, which, he claimed, show that the gas cylinders in the market have a composition of 50% propane and 50% butane, and not 30% and 70%, respectively, as claimed by the Government.

“On 26 April this year, if I remember correctly, a company called Intertek provided three reports to the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA). These reports show that Litro Gas’ 12.5 kg cylinder and the 18-litre cylinder, and also Laugfs’ 12.5 kg cylinder had a composition of 50% propane to 50% butane, and not 30% and 70%. Please table those reports in Parliament for everybody’s information,” urged Premadasa in Parliament last Saturday (27).

He went on to state 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.

Gunawardena told The Morning earlier this year that test samples from the 18-litre gas cylinder and 12.5 kg gas cylinder of both Litro Gas Lanka and Laugfs Gas have found that they contain a 50:50 composition of butane and propane.

“This is dangerous for domestic use and we are, therefore, concerned about the safety of the public. The usual composition is 80% of butane and 20% of propane. We have informed the relevant ministries regarding the matter,” Gunawardena told The Morning at the time.

The 18-litre gas cylinder was then removed from market circulation by Litro Gas Lanka. Gunawardena, speaking to the media recently, has blamed the gas companies for the recent kitchen explosions.

Premadasa made these remarks responding to an explanation made by State Minister of Co-operative Services, Marketing Development, and Consumer Protection Lasantha Alagiyawanna in Parliament earlier on Saturday.

The Morning’s attempts to contact Alagiyawanna yesterday (28) for further details on the reports mentioned by Premadasa, both via calls and text messages, proved futile.

Alagiyawanna said prior to Premadasa’s speech that a report on the recent incidents of reported gas explosions will be presented in Parliament today (29), following investigations by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).

Alagiyawanna said: “Earlier this year, Litro Gas PLC introduced the 18-litre gas cylinder. The very next day, the CAA asked Litro Gas Lanka to remove the said cylinder from the market. At the time, Litro Gas said that by making the composition of the 18-litre cylinder 50% butane and 50% propane, the heating efficiency would increase. However, the University of Moratuwa said at the time that this is not possible. Thus, the cylinder was removed from the market.

“The gas cylinders which are in the market now have 30% propane and 70% butane, with 5% changes either way. We have directed samples of both Laugfs Gas PLC and Litro Gas to the CPC and to a private company to test the quality of them. I will receive a report on this and I will discuss it with all the relevant institutions first. By Monday (today), I will present a report to Parliament on this.”

The State Minister further said that between 2015 and 2021, 23 incidents linked to gas cylinders were reported by Laugfs Gas.

“These were due to a number of reasons, including using low-quality equipment, lack of proper knowledge when handling equipment, not using the ‘hose’ attached to the cylinder properly, using the gas cylinder close to kerosene or wood-fired fireplaces, electric sparks, using the cylinder inside a pantry cupboard, and using a regulator which operates at a higher pressure than the hose,” he said.

He went on to say that all equipment that is imported by Laugfs and Litro is of a quality standard.

“These kind of incidents happen to date. The Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI) introduced a standard for the cylinder, gas, hose, regulator, and other equipment, alongside the CAA in 2012. Thus, all equipment that is imported by Laugfs and Litro is of a quality standard. The University of Moratuwa is also co-operating with a number of international partners to try and find solutions to the problems we are currently facing. We have also requested these two companies to raise awareness among the consumers about the safe usage of gas,” said Alagiyawanna.

He further claimed that none of these incidents were because the gas cylinders themselves exploded.

“In the recent incident at McDonald’s (Racecourse), the gas cylinders were placed outside the restaurant and supplied gas to four restaurants. The fire occurred at McDonald’s because they had forgotten to close the supply pipe inside the restaurant,” he claimed.

During the past month, several explosions were reported at both industrial commercial establishments as well as the domestic household level, including two restaurants in Weligama and Colombo 7 as well as a bakery in Ratnapura.

Speaking to The Morning last week, Litro Gas Lanka Chairman Theshara Jayasinghe assured that the composition of gas in the cylinders has not been changed in an unsafe manner, adding: “The composition is 30% propane and 70% butane. We are strictly in compliance with the Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI).”

Meanwhile, Laugfs Gas Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chaminda Ediriwickrama told The Morning that there is no relationship between the product composition and the incidents of the recent explosions.