Natural gas is a worldwide low emitting, affordable carbon fuel source. Within the Southern African context, natural gas is used in both domestic and industrial environments. Established in 2009, the Pressure Equipment Regulations (PER) was introduced in South Africa to the natural gas market with the expectation that this regulation will ensure safety of use and good practice. PER regulates natural gas and this regulation requires all equipment to be verified by a designated institution.
There are two institutions that verify natural gas equipment. The Southern African Gas Association (SAGA), and the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (LPGas). While LPGas focuses on lower volumes of use found typically in domestic installations, SAGA ‘s mandate is to regulate the safety of natural gas in industrial installations with gas volumes above a threshold of 0.5 gigajoules per hour or 10kg per hour in terms of LPG, or 140 kilowatts per hour in terms of heat.
South African Regulation Role-Players
In order to enforce the regulation issued through the chief inspector of the Department of Labour (DOL), SAGA has created policies and rules that govern safe gas handling for natural gas. In an essence it’s illegal for a company to install, sell or take to market any natural gas product, if the carrying equipment is not registered or certified. The DOL, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Custom and The South African Revenue Service (SARS) play a vital role in enforcing these policies and rules.
This regulation scheme is further aided by SAGA on the ground level, ensuring that natural gas installers, uses and providers adhere to the PER regulation. Through ongoing educational training courses, as well as public engagements, SAGA imprints its importance in the policing and safe handling of natural gas within Southern Africa.
Operating under Regulation for the safety of all
As South Africa has limited access to its own natural gas reserves, the Country becomes reliant on importing. Majority of the natural gas available in South Africa is supplied from a few key import sources. Mozambique, for example, contributes to a significant amount of natural gas via pipeline. Another example is through the network of South African harbours. Transporting natural gas via shipping has exploded into a rapidly expanding industry. As the demand increases, a large amount of new importers from Asia and Europe are entering the market. These importers largely participate in good practice of safe handling, but there are a few suppliers importing natural gas that is not regulated up to the PER.
In 2009 South Africa consumed 191 Bcf (5.4 Bcm) of natural gas, and this figure has grown substantially over the last 7 years. It is up to SAGA to ensure the safe handling of natural gas from import to installation. Companies that work with natural gas should operate under regulation. This is vital as serious harm could be caused by negligent gas practice or handling.
SAGA’s safety focus is in three main areas:
- Company and Practitioner regulation