By Pratap John
Woqod was not responsible for the recent gas explosion in Doha, said outgoing chairman HE Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.
“Safety is Woqod’s top priority…in the last 11 years Woqod never had any accident,” al-Attiyah told Gulf Times last night.
Eleven people were killed and some 35 injured when an LPG tank exploded on the roof of a restaurant in Doha on February 27.
The explosion occurred on the roof of the Istanbul Turkish restaurant near The Landmark Mall in Duhail, north Doha, and facing Al Shamal Expressway.
“This incident is not related to us (Woqod),” al-Attiyah stressed.
Asked about the prospects of installing a piped gas distribution network in Qatar, al-Attiyah said: “It is not economical for a country like ours. We are rapidly expanding. Doha’s expansion is mostly horizontal. It is very costly to establish a piped gas distribution network in such a situation.
“Also, a piped gas distribution network is not foolproof, safety-wise. In many Western countries, there have been accidents involving such systems.”
While LPG cylinders were being extensively used, al-Attiyah said: “These must be handled carefully. People must be educated as to how they should use gas cylinders. At home, I have been using LPG cylinders for the last 40 years…and I never had any issue.”
He said a high committee would look into the aspects of creating awareness among customers on LPG cylinder usage.
Al-Attiyah saw land availability as the biggest challenge for Woqod in establishing more fuel stations in the country. Getting suitable land for a fuel station, especially within Doha, is very difficult now.
“I am sure the government will find a way out,” he said.
Woqod vice-chairman and managing director Mohamed Khalifa Turki al-Sobai also affirmed that his company was not the cause for the recent gas explosion.
Asked how it could have occurred, he said: “The issue is under investigation, I don’t wish to comment on it.”
He said: “We have installed more than 2,800 such (park) tanks all over Qatar. Woqod has been operating these for more than seven years now; we never had any incident. This is because people use it in the proper way.”
Al-Sobai said that such tanks were being solely imported by Woqod to ensure their quality and safety.
“We are the only source to import such tanks; we don’t leave it for others to decide on their quality and safety. This is to avoid any misuse.”
He said Woqod had put in stringent regulations for tanks’ installation, quality control, inspection and approval.
“Woqod strictly follows this process… we have done this for all our customers.”
With regard to the recent LPG tank explosion, al-Sobai said only an investigation would reveal whether there was any leak in the system.