Why above ground fuel storage is cost effective
As a raw product, fuel oil is refined to meet diverse requirements covering transportation, plant logistics and electrical power generation. For every application, there are different methods for fuel storage together with an associated supply chain from source to the point of consumption.
Above ground storage tanks are used at oil refineries and regional storage depots. Fuel tanker trucks are a common sight, bringing petrol and diesel to service stations or heating oil for farms and remote properties, which are off the national power grid.
What we don’t see is the huge amount of fuel distribution infrastructure that is underground. This includes a national pipeline linking major airports and other elements which are crucial to the UK’s economy.
Underground storage tanks are also common for retail service stations. Historically this has evolved with the growth in private motoring and commercial road transport. As the tanks became larger, so did the case for safer storage underground. This practice also allowed more efficient use of the garage forecourt space and it continued through to the development of the high throughput retail filling stations we see on the motorways and superstores today.
In effect, it has been this growth in the national infrastructure, that has led to a requirement for more flexible fuelling points and therefore the case for customised fuel storage, based on above ground tanks.
By definition underground tanks are a fixed asset. As market conditions changed and transport operators moved out to larger business park developments, these first-generation underground tanks became more of a liability. Above ground installations are flexible and cheaper to decommission. And good quality tanks remain an asset.
Apart from costs of decommissioning, there were also environmental considerations. We are now in an age where the community is much more aware of the potential risks of pollution and flooding. We have very strict regulations covering fuel storage and the consequences and penalties for any neglect can be huge.
Best engineering practice and design of fuel storage tanks has continued to develop to a point where above ground storage tanks offer 100 percent integrity. This has been achieved mainly by the introduction of the self bunded tank, advanced leak detection and online contents monitoring.
LWE has been in the forefront of development of safe storage tanks for all inflammable products such as petroleum, diesel and kerosene products. The obvious benefit of an above ground installation is that it is far easier to inspect and maintain on a day-to-d ay basis. The tank remains an asset for the business owner and it can be relocated easily, if or any reason the operational requirement should change.
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