The problem was discussed during a meeting about dealing with violations in liquefied petroleum gas business. Representatives of the Public Security Ministry's drug crime investigation police (C47) and market management of Hanoi, Bac Ninh, Hung Yen as well as various enterprises attended the meeting.
Doan Trong Tha, head of the legal department of Vietnam Gas Association, said illegal gas extraction is an uncontrollable problem. Some shops store petroleum of unknown origin in cylinders from well-known brands to trick customers. In other cases, the shops save money by using empty cylinders from other brands, sanding and modifying the cylinders for their own use and this poses a huge fire risk.
However, there are no strict punishments for such violations. Nguyen Anh Tuan, head of a company in Lam Dong Province that provided fake petroleum, was only sentenced 18 months in prison and his sentence is still suspended.
Representatives of various companies including Van Loc, Hong Ha, Venus, and Anpha Petrol said they lost quite a large number of empty cylinders that can be reused. "The cylinders are sold as junk. This is a huge waste. An empty cylinder takes VND450,000 (USD20) to VND500,000 to make and it is sold at only VND100,000," said the representative of Tran Hong Quan Gas.
He went on to say that the company lost 300,000 cylinders and would have to spend tens of billions of VND making new ones.
More inspections, stricter punishments and public awareness programme are needed. There should also be regulations on whether petrol companies can keep empty cylinders of other companies and for how long to avoid cases where a company hoards its competitor's empty cylinders.
Jimba Kentaro, director of Anpha Petrol said after two years in Vietnam, he could confirm the tough competition. According to Kentaro, if this situation goes on, customers will turn their back on cooking gas in 10 to 15 years.
Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Department of Market Management Trinh Van Ngoc said the ministry had issued Directive 13 on October 4 to tighten management over liquefied petroleum gas. "Businesses that fail to meet required standards for fire safety will be suspended or have their licences withdrawn," he said.