Find out about the oil storage regulations in place to protect the environment and public health.
Published 10 Feb 2023
Oil storage keeps petroleum products and other oils in large, specialized containers for long periods. These containers, or tanks, help to facilitate the safe, efficient, and reliable storage of crude oil and other petrochemical products.
These tanks can hold a wide variety of crude oil and refined petroleum products, from diesel and gasoline to fuel oils, all stored for long-term use to meet future energy demands.
Oil storage is an integral part of the oil transportation process as it helps to ensure the safe delivery of these essential resources. Storage capacity varies according to the type and volume of the product.
Oil storage regulations are designed to protect the environment and public health by ensuring that oil stored in tanks meets specific safety standards. These regulations are intended to prevent spills and leaks from causing harm to people or the environment.
The regulations cover both onshore and offshore operations. They cover tank design, containment systems for tank overflows, oil spill prevention plans, and emergency response policies for onshore operations. For offshore operations, some additional requirements may include double-walled containment systems and remote sensing technologies that detect oil leaks.
In addition to outlining the technical requirements of oil storage facilities, these regulations also detail the responsibilities of operators who store various petroleum products. These include properly maintaining equipment and reporting any incidents related to the storage or transportation of petroleum products.
Following oil storage regulations can have numerous benefits for big and small businesses. For one, properly storing oil products is essential in avoiding accidents that could be costly and put human lives at risk. Regulations guide safe practices and the measures needed to minimize safety risks when handling and storing hazardous materials safely and securely.
Companies that demonstrate their commitment to adhering to regulations by showing a track record of compliance can often get lower rates from insurers if they need to claim because of an accident or disaster.
Furthermore, oil regulations help ensure businesses remain in compliance with government standards. It can save companies from hefty fines or being barred from specific markets for violating codes.
Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have established regulations for oil storage tanks, which include requirements for tank design, containment systems, and emergency response plans.
In general, oil storage compliance regulations address the following issues:
Below are the regulations for different storage tanks:
OSHA’s standards for above-ground storage tanks are comprehensive. Key things to be mindful of include the following:
OSHA has extensive regulations to be followed when storing fuel tanks above ground. For example, the government specifies the minimum distance a tank must be away from any structure.
Regulations for underground fuel storage tanks include the following requirements:
The safety and security of oil storage tanks depend on design standards for containers. The design of the tank must be able to contain any potential spills, as well as protect against corrosion and other environmental hazards.
Drums and IBCs that display the ‘UN’ designation comply with the required design standard. The ‘UN’ designation means the container is suitable for storing and transporting hazardous materials, including petroleum products.
Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC), an industry body for the oil heating sector, has established design standards based on British Standard 5410 for fixed tanks. These standards are.
Moreover, bunded and underground tanks have different requirements.
Below are the part requirements of fixed tanks:
The vent pipe and tank itself must be visible if an automatic overfill prevention device is to be installed when any tank is filled. These devices could shut off the oil flow when the tank is full or alert the filler with some alarm or fixed tank probe.
If your tank has underground pipework, protect it from damage by:
In the case of corrodable materials such as steel or copper, you must protect the pipework from corrosion by:
Without a permanent leak detection device, you must test your underground pipework for leaks in these intervals.
Mechanical joints connect two or more pieces of pipe, such as compression or threaded fittings.
Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.
Above-ground tanks store crude and refined oil, finished products, and natural gas. These tanks must be placed underground at retail outlets such as gas stations for safety purposes. In cases where land storage is at capacity, the most expensive option is to utilize tanker ships as temporary storage.
Any part of a building or construction that isn’t fire resistant, such as doors, windows, eaves, and cladding, must be at least 1.8 meters from an oil tank. This distance should also be kept from combustible material, such as trees and shrubs. Keeping the oil tank at least 3 meters from your home or property is best to be safe.
Different regulations for installing oil tanks about property boundaries vary from region to region. Still, as a general rule, if the tank is less than 3500 liters, it should not be installed within 760mm of a fuel boundary, e.g., a fence, assuming there are no outlets or buildings nearby.
The ideal placement for your tank is either on the ground or below. Avoid placing it above the roof line as it should remain accessible for deliveries and maintenance and avoid any potential damage from machinery, the weather, or other external impacts.
SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) provides a range of safety features to help you ensure the safe storage and handling of oil. With SafetyCulture, you can ensure that all safety protocols are followed by:
Rob Paredes is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He is a content writer who also does copy for websites, sales pages, and landing pages. Rob worked as a financial advisor, a freelance copywriter, and a Network Engineer for more than a decade before joining SafetyCulture. He got interested in writing because of the influence of his friends; aside from writing, he has an interest in personal finance, dogs, and collecting Allen Iverson cards.
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