The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) will audit all 6,000 underground storage tanks (USTs) and pipelines at petroleum retail outlets across the country to improve safety in the petroleum downstream sector.
The project, expected to start in the first quarter of next year, will cover 1,000 selected USTs and pipelines that are more than 10 years old.
There are 6,000 USTs and pipelines in 3,000 petroleum outlets across in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NPA, Mr Alhassan Tampuli, told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday that the NPA had published an Expression of Interest in the dailies requesting consultants to apply to undertake the exercise, adding that it would begin after consultants had been selected competitively.
He said the objectives of the exercise were to determine the general integrity of USTs, associated pipelines and accessories and to generate a comprehensive database on the test dates and status of USTs for easy compliance monitoring and follow-up tests.
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“We hope to have a baseline data for our monitoring and enforcement of standards (i.e. ensure underground tanks are assessed every five years) and additionally to avoid health, safety and environment incidents, such as leakages, to avert contamination of underground water systems among others.
Asked why the NPA was using the services of consultants and not the inspectorate division of the NPA for the exercise, Mr Tampuli explained that the authority did not have the tools and the capacity to undertake the exercise throughout the country.
“The inspectorate division does visual inspection of the connecting appurtenances for signs of deterioration of such facility but not the entire buried system,” Mr Tampuli explained.
He said an assessment on that scale had never been done but explained that “some assessment is done at the construction stage of an outlet when the tank is first installed and required to be repeated at intervals of five years, but a comprehensive data on all the tanks is not available for ease of monitoring.”
Mr Tampuli said “going forward we want to take away the human interface in reporting of volumes lifted for monitoring and tax purposes. In this regard, we have asked the depots and filling stations to install an Automatic Tank Gauging System (ATGS) software.
“This system automatically records volumes inflow and outflows into and from the tanks. The ATGS will also be connected to the NPA software, Enterprises Relations Database and Management Systems (ERDMS), for real time data transmission,” Mr Tampuli explained.
The NPA boss said the main aim was to remove the human interface and avoid manipulation of data, which in the past led to tax evasion, making of fraudulent transportation claims and encouraged smuggling and dumping.