Cambodia’s officials tackle gas business

US energy giant ExxonMobil could soon abandon its US$10 billion Blue Whale gas project in Vietnam. Photo: Twitter. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

PHNOM PENH, Aug 10, 2020, The Phnom Penh Post. Gas vendors who do not meet technical standards could soon be out of business, Phnom Penh Municipal Fire Department director Prom Yorn said on Sunday (Aug 9), The Phnom Penh Post reported.

Instructions are being sent to gas retailers after Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng ordered the elimination of illegal gas-selling shops.

Yorn said if someone does not have the proper authorisation and paperwork, authorities will close them down.

On August 6, Sreng instructed the department to introduce or eliminate all non-technical gas shops in Phnom Penh to reduce the risk of accidents.

“We are having meetings to decide what we need to do to get the job done smoothly and get vendors to be more knowledgable and enthusiastic about safety measures,” Yorn said.

Chamkarmon district governor Theng Sothol told The Post on Sunday that he had assigned staff to compile data on gas sellers.

Sothol said if there is a gas shop that does not follow the correct technical standards, the first measure is to educate them.

Por Sen Chey district governor Hem Darith echoed the sentiment. He said gas vendors cooperated well with the authorities.

“If we find a gas shop that is not technically competent, we first need to educate, guide, and give them time to move to a suitable location that is easy to extinguish if there is an accident,” he said.

Chea Ra, the owner of a gas refill shop in Por Sen Chey district’s Kakab commune, supports the measure and said it is a good way to provide safety for gas sellers and refill shops.

“I am selling gas that I received from the depot. So if they provide any kind of gas tank I have to accept it accordingly. Therefore, I hope that the new measures will make it easier for me to get a standard quality gas tank without worrying about any possible risks,” Ra said.

Seng Hak, a gas refiller in Sen Sok district’s Krang Thnong commune, told The Post that gas storage shops should have enough airflow and tanks shouldn’t be kept in enclosed areas.

“Some of the smallest gas shops do not have the technology and they are trying to hide because they are afraid of being found out. And some people keep gas tanks in a small room because of fear they will explode if put it under sunlight,” he said.

Hak said gas tanks are best stored in a wide-open space, even in the sunlight, and it does not cause explosions or other risks. On the other hand, big gas cylinders often have an automatic shut-off valve when the gas leaks.

He said in his nearly 20 years of experience selling gas he has noticed many unprofessional gas sellers without proper training.

“Some people see other people making money from this business, so they just follow and put the gas for sale without much skill or knowledge. These are mostly the small gas selling shops,” Hak said.

Chheng Sokny, a gas salesman in Sleng Roleung village, Sen Sok district’s Teuk Thla commune, said gas selling shops should not put their gas tanks with other products. They should just sell gas.

“I have observed that gas selling shops that had explosions had inappropriate storage. Some shops mixed gas selling with repairing electronics, for example, and it can cause an explosion,” Sokny said.

The new measures follow a July 18 gas shop explosion on Preah Trasak Paem (St 63) in Phnom Penh, which killed four people and injured five. The cause was improper welding of a gas tank.

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