Most major companies across manufacturing sectors store oil in bulk to save on shipping costs and increase economies of scale. When oil prices are low, demand increases and supply must keep up in order to bring competition back in balance. In addition, given the variability of oil prices in recent years, many corporations want to capitalize on favorable prices for supply.
If oil companies, industrial manufacturing companies, or energy corporations are storing oil in excess, there must be guidelines met for safety and compliance. With environmental audits from the EPA, many auditors find issues with storage facilities and procedures.
Below are a few of the major guidelines for storing excess oil inventory for your operations.
5 Tips for Excess Oil Inventory
Properly Labeled Storage Facility – Most oil spills, fires, and explosion accidents occur from a lack of sufficient labeling. Human error is one of the most prominent reasons for oil storage accidents – most of the accidents that occur were preventable with proper labeling. There should be no smoking within 200 feet of a storage facility, and most facilities should be off-site locations with favorable weather conditions (not too hot or too cold) and minimum community impact. In addition, poorly designed tanks, inadequate distribution pipelines, and unsuitable filling points are some of the major causes of oil spills or seepage. Properly labeling storage facilities in compliance with OSHA standards will lower your risk for human error and potential catastrophe.
Store Oil Above Ground – There are two ways to store oil – above ground and below ground. Although the oil can be stored below ground, most companies store their oil supply in free standing storage tanks. Backfilled underground storage facilities are unnecessary and should be avoided. Without proper inspection and leak detection, the oil can seep into the soil and waterways around your facility location, exemplifying incidents. By storing excess oil above ground, your workers can better assess the condition of the piping and storage tanks, including corrosion detection and cracking. Otherwise, more expensive equipment will be needed for maintenance and leak detection.
Location-Type – The first consideration for oil storage is location because appropriate site selection is an important factor in reducing risk and consequences of uncontained spillage. As stated previously, storage facilities should be off-site locations, preferably in rural areas with minimum environmental and domestic damage opportunities. As stated in OSHA guidelines, oil storage areas should meet the following conditions: Firm, level ground, remotely located from surface drains and wells, secure from unauthorized access, and readily visible and accessible for inspection and maintenance. Sloping topography should always be avoided for purposes of spillage quarantines. In addition, permeable soils or concretes should be avoided in case of spillage so as not to contaminate ground water.
Purchase the Correct Storage Tanks – Prior to purchase, visit OSHA for accredited quality storage tanks. The specifications of the tanks should be examined to ensure they are manufactured under proper control. The installation, commissioning, and final inspection of the tanks should be carried out by a competent safety professional, both internally within the company, and externally through OSHA or qualifying agencies. Depending on the size of the tank, the material should complement the associated load of product within the tank. For example, most tanks are made from pressure-treated steel with anticorrosive surface coating.
“Bund” Containment – Probably one of the most important safety measures with oil storage is the use of an above ground bund, which is an impermeable wall and base located around the storage tank. This secondary containment safety mechanism will help capture any oil leakage occurring over time. The containment vessel must be impermeable to both oil and water with sufficient structural strength and appropriate margins of safety.
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The writer of this article, Matthew Hall, is a blogger specializing in the oil and gas industry, in particular safety concerns. He recommends safety be paramount in the minds of any business owner in the oil and gas industry, and for health and safety professionals he advises making use of software provided at www.ecompliance.com.