Tank Storage Magazine v03 i03


Volume: 3
Issue: 3
Date Published: August 1, 2007



Trading places in Asia

Asia is changing. In terms of new facilities and expansions, nowhere has been busier than Singapore. But now, with full capacity looming and petroleum sector deregulation being the watchword, surrounding countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are changing the shape of the Asia storage map. The sustained investment in Asia storage facilities, most evidently in Singapore, is firm evidence of the importance of the region to global petroleum and petrochemical trade. At the same time, trading outfits, looking for leverage in a continually volatile market, are muscling in on the traditional independents, and bringing with them the possibility of a higher level of secrecy to the market, coupled with the potential for higher, wider-ranging storage fees. The region's development has been buoyed by a number of clear factors. Firstly, rising global demand for refined products and high refinery use has lead to strained refining capacity in the world's main refining centres, improving the economics of inter-regional product transfer. The price differentials that result from such movement, and the risk management opportunities that go with it, have attracted trading companies to the market, keen to maximise profits from moving and holding onto product as prices rise. Another highly significant political driver of the Asian market is the deregulation effort underway in the energy sector in a number of countries, and opening the doors to new retail chains. Retail entrants need reliable storage and independents are now taking the opportunity to meet this burgeoning demand. To read this article in full you will need to subscribe to Tank Storage Magazine or buy the back-issue. Click here for further details

ILTA proves a resounding success

The 27th ILTA attracted a record number of attendees and featured the largest number of exhibitors at the event yet. Over 715 participants attended the conference and workshop, exceeding last year's record by nearly 50. The exhibition hall featured 223 domestic and international exhibitors, occupying over 330 booths. The entire event hosted an overall attendance of over 3,050 terminal executives, operators and suppliers from around the world. Renewable fuels featured prominently at the event, and even got a conference track of its own, which was very well received. With many delegates being fairly new to the industry, many speakers were kept busy answering questions and explaining relatively new issues and concerns. Particularly relevant and thought provoking topics included ethanol handling, biodiesel blending and biofuel quality testing. Another major focus of this year's conference was floating roofs. On the first day a panel of experts discussed the operational considerations, management implications and air emissions issues of storage tank floating roof landings. It was a well attended session with a detailed discussion on landing losses, the Texas remote sensing study and findings, and the terminal industry's actions in reducing emissions from landings. Following the panel discussion, a series of sessions focused on other floating roof concerns, including design requirements, safety considerations, maintenance issues and equipment selection criteria. To read this article in full you will need to subscribe to Tank Storage Magazine or buy the back-issue. Click here for further details

A preview of the latest products to be exhibited at StocExpo Asia

The first ever StocExpo Asia is just about to take place from 2-3 October, at the Suntec Expo in Singapore. The event will bring together terminal operators from throughout Asia for a conference and exhibition. Topics covered will include key drivers in the region, market challenges and a look to the future. Singapore's oil storage industry has been through a large amount of expansion and investment in recent years. As of next year, investors from the region and abroad would have invested nearly $1 billion (€732 million), escalating Singapore's third party capacity from 3.6 million m3 to 7.3 million m3. Singapore has become Asia's leading oil trading and blending centre. The Singapore government has announced plans to build at least 3 million m3 of underground storage capacity on Jurong Island, the oil-petrochemical hub, by 2009. Before the year is out, foreign companies Vopak, Oiltanking and Horizon Terminals will bring more than 1.3 million m3 in new tank capacity. In addition to being a top international petrochemical hub, Singapore ranks in the top five bulk liquids ports in the world. Alongside Singapore, and due to Asia's ever-increasing energy requirements, storage capacity looks to increase in countries such as China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. To read this article in full you will need to subscribe to Tank Storage Magazine or buy the back-issue. Click here for further details

Quenching China’s thirst for petrochemicals

Nowhere in the world is the outlook for the petrochemical industry more robust and dynamic than it is in China. China is the chief growth driver of the global petrochemical industry and is likely to become the world leader in production within the next decade. In 2005, capital spending on petrochemical production in China totalled an estimated $36 billion (€26 billion) - the highest in the world. In many ways, the industry is on a growth track that is impressive even in the context of China's overall expansion. But growth rarely comes without growing pains. As China's imports of petrochemicals continue to rise, as domestic production continues to accelerate, and as export growth surges, issues of storage and transportation become increasingly acute. The problem is a potentially serious one: the tight supply of petrochemical tankers - a situation unlikely to change in the immediate future - could affect the industry itself. Fortunately, ships are not the only factor in the equation. 'The petrochemical transportation challenge in China is essentially a supplychain optimisation issue,' notes Walter Wattenbergh, MD of Stolthaven Terminals. 'Given the limited number of ships and the huge and growing volumes of petrochemicals flowing into and, increasingly, out of China, the key is to focus on increased efficiencies across the entire length of the supply chain. We must seek - if not invent - new ways to make the most of existing shipping assets by leveraging other resources and capabilities.' To read this article in full you will need to subscribe to Tank Storage Magazine or buy the back-issue. Click here for further details

Postponed TSA comes to Coventry

This year's Tank Storage Association one-day conference and exhibition will be held on Thursday 13 September at the Hilton Hotel, Coventry, UK. The event will feature 29 companies showcasing their industry related products and services on more than 300m3 of exhibition area. The TSA annual conference is usually held in May, but the spring date for the 2007 event was postponed with the intention of including the latest information about the Buncefield disaster, which arrived during the summer. As a result, presentation topics will focus on subjects that make up the recommendations of the Final Report from the Buncefield Standards Task Group, published on 24 July. Conference topics on this report will include policy developments for hazardous liquid containment, overfill protection and prevention recommendations, as well as emphasis on tank gauging and inventory management systems. The TSA event provides an annual forum for the bulk liquid storage industry, and is sponsored by Tankbank. This year's keynote speaker will be Kevin Allars, who is part of the Health and Safety Commission, a governmental organisation responsible for health and safety regulation in the UK. To read this article in full you will need to subscribe to Tank Storage Magazine or buy the back-issue. Click here for further details

Keeping it all under one roof

The driving force for change in storage tanks is environmental and safety legislation. The role of roofs and domes is vital as these regulations are implemented. Although legislation over the past few years has not altered their fundamental characteristics, improvements have been made. These allow storage farm managers to go above and beyond mandatory regulations, reducing emissions, increasing safety for workers, and improving durability. Material of choice In general, roofs come in either aluminium or steel, and are internal or external floating roofs, or fixed roofs, such as domes. The market for floating roofs is roughly split 80:20, with the majority being aluminium and the minority steel, although there are other materials on the market such as glass fibre. Patterns show aluminium has slowly been replacing steel over the past 20 years. There are a number of economic advantages to aluminium such as lower construction times and lower initial costs. It is also lightweight and compatible with a wide range of materials and can be used with hydrocarbons, in fuel tanks and storage tanks. 'The trend is for aluminium instead of steel internal floating roofs,' says Bill Grimes, sales engineer at US-based floating roof company Allentech. 'It is reliable and some aluminium internal floating roofs (IFRs) have the same emission efficiency as steel.' Another construction advantage for aluminium is that custom designs can be adapted and retrofitting is easier, both for floating roofs and domes. Netherlands-based CTS's MD Gert van Meijeren says: 'There are lots of of different grades of aluminium. Each has its own characteristics and applications - it is replacing steel in a big way.' IFRs fit under a fixed roof on a tank. External floating roofs do a similar job, but are pontoon-type or double-deck type covers that rest on the liquid surface in a vessel with no fixed roof. To read this article in full you will need to subscribe to Tank Storage Magazine or buy the back-issue. Click here for further details

Advantages of internal floating roofs

There was a time, 50 years ago, that most hydrocarbon storage tanks had internal floating roofs (IFRs), not because they were an environmental requirement but because they were good for business. In the 1920s the petroleum industry began putting floating roofs on crude oil and petroleum products to conserve product and to prevent fires. For many decades the cost of a floating roof was justified on the basis of lost product from evaporation and risk of fire. The IFR reduces the risk of fire because the vapour in the space between the IFR and the tank roof is normally well below the explosive limit. Times changed; IFRs are now required by environmental regulations to control hydrocarbon emissions. In most circumstances an IFR is the most cost effective method of controlling vapour emissions. The typical IFR used in the petroleum and ethanol industry is constructed from an aluminum skin and beams, and floats on pontoons. Steel pan type IFRs and steel pontoon IFRs are also used but have a higher initial cost. Aluminum is suitable for ethanol produced in a distillation process such as that which is normally used for fuel grade ethanol. The residual water serves as an inhibitor. Methanol is produced in a chemical process and contains no water and therefore no inhibitor. The storage of methanol typically requires either a steel IFR or a hybrid. A hybrid uses stainless steel for the parts in direct contact with the product. These parts include the pontoons, rim plates, legs, and all other parts that dip into the product. The deck skin, clamp beams and parts above the product can be manufactured from aluminum. A hybrid IFR is more expensive than an aluminum one but is typically less expensive than a steel one. The IFR, whether steel, aluminum or a hybrid, does not prevent loss of product by holding the contents under pressure. There is essentially no pressure differential between the under side and top side of the floating roof. An IFR works by preventing the circulation of air at the surface of the product. To read this article in full you will need to subscribe to Tank Storage Magazine or buy the back-issue. Click here for further details

Effective leak detection and containment monitoring

Almost all petroleum and chemical producers worldwide want to ensure effective leak detection and monitoring of the integrity of tank and pipeline systems. But containment experts complain that many companies still rely on irregular manual inspection rather than continuous monitoring of containment systems. A handful of tank farm operators are afraid to adopt continuous monitoring systems unless they absolutely have to. This is in case leaks highlighted by monitoring equipment are used by regulators to fine the operator for negligence. On the other hand, many oil and chemical storage firms take a more responsible approach, recognising the need to use the best technology available to protect the environment. There is no common approval system for leak detection equipment. In the US, evaluation of leak detection equipment and systems is based on EPA Standard Test procedures for Evaluating Leak Detection Methods (EPA/530/IST- 90/004 to 010) and other test procedures. In Europe, tests are based on EN 1360 for leak detection, EN 141425 for integrity of pipes in petrol stations, and EN 1225 for tank inspection. Elements of these standards are also adopted to varying degree in other markets. Leak detection systems cover a wide gamut from automatic tank gauging and volumetric tank tightness to continuous in-tank leak detection, non-volumetric tank tightness, statistical inventory reconciliation analysis, interstitial monitoring, outside tank and oil sheen detection systems, aboveground storage tank systems and secondary containment designs. 'Long-term experience shows that in conventional storage and distribution systems, a certain percentage of leaks will occur on a regular basis, whatever measures you take,' says Ruediger Steffen of leak detector supplier ECO-GTU in Germany. 'But detection of that leak along with its location equates directly to the reduction of risk, operating costs and associated downtime.' Given growing environmental awareness there are increasing calls to enforce the use of leak detection systems. However, there is no move towards an EU leak detection directive. Steve Austin of US-based GE Analytical Instruments suggests that industry standards like ISO14001 encourage compliance for companies pursuing continuous improvement environmentally. The EPA has a measure called Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC), which is designed to prevent oil spills from reaching the navigable waters of the US or adjoining shorelines. However, the SPCC Rule (under regulation 40 CFR part 112) is limited to large storage operations, i.e. non-transportation related facilities with total aboveground oil storage capacity of 1,320 gallons, or total buried oil storage capacity exceeding 42,000 gallons. Some smaller facilities may fall under the regulation due to location by navigable waters, but there is still strong opposition to further amendment of 40CFR part 112. To read this article in full you will need to subscribe to Tank Storage Magazine or buy the back-issue. Click here for further details

Taking a closer look

The number of incidents that have happened as a result of tank corrosion have diminished significantly over the past few years. But when a tank failure does occur, it can be disastrous, so regular tank inspection is vital. Since April 1999 when the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations came into force in England, Wales and Scotland, the Competant Authority has been required to notify the European Commission of certain major events. As a consequence, there have only been two incidents involving storage tanks affected by corrosion in the UK - between the onset of the regulation and the end of 2005. Tank failures In July 1999, Esso Petroleum at Fawley, UK, experienced a failure in a tank bottom resulting in the release of 400 tonnes of crude oil, which was contained within the bund. Esso amended its tank inspection programme to the satisfaction of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Just two months later, the Vopak storage terminal at Middlesbrough, UK, suffered a 12 tonne spillage of sodium cyanide solution due to corrosion of a defective weld. The solution soaked into the ground and ran into the River Tees, resulting in Vopak receiving a prohibition notice, a £5,000 (€7,412) fine for polluting the river, and a repair bill of £245,000. Despite the improved history in the UK, in November last year the HSE issued a safety alert relating to the rupture of an atmospheric crude oil storage tank that occurred in Belgium in October 2005. The rupture affected a 40,000 cubic metre tank that was more than three-quarters full, with the leak being noticed in the refinery control-room through the activation of the low level alarm. The storage tank was built in 1971, had been inspected in 1990 and put back into service by a new owner in 1991. An external inspection was undertaken in 1994, and then subsequently every three years. A full inspection was scheduled for 2006, although in 2004 measurements were performed that showed no abnormal features. Investigations determined that a gutter had formed in the bottom of the tank 1.5 metres from the tank shell, and that the accumulation of stagnant water had caused internal corrosion that reduced the thickness of the bottom plates in that location. No other plates in the area displayed indications of severe corrosion. It is thought that the gutter formed due to settlement in the tank foundation, which consisted of compacted sand. The gutter in the bottom plates had not been detected during the internal inspection in 1990-1991 most likely due to the technique used, and also because, with the tank empty, elastic deformation would have partially hidden the gutter. The visual inspection found pitting corrosion, and ultrasonic thickness measurements were performed on the affected plates that were subsequently repaired. All the other tanks on the site were examined and found to have the same defect located in the same position. Although the ability to see the defect was variable, in each case the thickness of the plate in the gutter was reduced and in some cases there were small perforations. A small leak in one of the other tanks was shown to have happened a few days before the major tank rupture, but the foundations had moved sufficiently to seal it. Whether the lack of incidents is the result of more effective inspection programmes, improved techniques, better operator application or just good fortune, will probably not be known for another 10 years or so. What is obvious, however, is that the results of a tank failure can be so catastrophic that research into inspection methods is continuing and new technology is reaching the market. To read this article in full you will need to subscribe to Tank Storage Magazine or buy the back-issue. Click here for further details

Preparing for all eventualities

Some armchair experts claim that accidents never happen. If every piece of equipment is properly designed and used correctly, if every worker is properly trained and never takes a short cut, and if every process carried out on site is conducted as it should be and monitored rigorously, then nothing will go wrong. But in the real world accidents do happen. The inevitability of spills is an important factor in the design and construction of tank storage facilities. Tanks are surrounded by bunded areas to catch spills and fitted with warning devices to detect leaks and overflows before they become serious. But bunds can leak (or be overtopped) and any warning device can fail. If they do fail a second level of spill control to limit the spill and a clean-up regime is required to minimise environmental damage and make sure the site is safe to resume operations as quickly as possible. In the wake of the Buncefield fire in the UK during December 2005 tank storage operators everywhere are looking extra carefully at the safety of their systems. Whilst overflows and leaks of less volatile materials are unlikely to lead to such a catastrophe, they are nevertheless expensive to deal with. Several less dramatic cases that occurred this year show that there are still lessons to be learnt. On 2 July a light sheen of oil was noticed drifting in the Firth of Forth (estuary of the river Forth) in Scotland. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) traced the source of the slick to the Grangemouth refinery operated by Ineos. The nature and volume of oil released has not been disclosed, nor have the mechanics of how it happened been revealed. Ineos' press officer Kath Wilson would only say that they were unable to go into detail while the matter is under investigation. SEPA demanded work be done immediately to prevent a recurrence and went as far as to station a boat in the estuary to monitor the work on site. In this instance the spill was small and no clean up work was required in the estuary. According to SEPA's Lin Bunten nature is the best possible form of clean-up in this case, as no significant accumulations of oil have gathered on shore and no dead birds or fish have been identified as a result of this incident. Not all spills are so benign. A more serious incident occurred on the same day 4000 miles away in Coffeyville, Kansas, US, when the Verdigris river over topped its levee by four feet and inundated a refinery. Some 71,400 gallons of crude oil mixed with the flood water and caused widespread damage. And when a four million gallon tank of diesel owned by Ashland Oil in Pennsylvania split apart in 1988 it polluted the drinking water supply used by more than a million people. To read this article in full you will need to subscribe to Tank Storage Magazine or buy the back-issue. Click here for further details

Terminal automation

Companies all around the world are recognising the opportunities set by terminal operators, and investing in developing new technologies. These will not only take advantage of the emerging innovations in communications, but will also identify alternative applications and wider international markets for proven technologies. Having the capabilities to exercise greater control over processing applications, product traceability, data capture and security puts power into the hands of terminal management. Realtime information processing will enable personnel to consider the wider objectives of the business as opposed to specific duties. APS Technology Group is a provider of technology systems that automatically identify and track containers and cargo for marine and intermodal terminals. The company believes that its optical character recognition (OCR) systems are suited to applications outside their current scope of operations. Matt Ramsey, the company director of business development, says APS has enjoyed great success throughout the US with its systems, which have been crafted and developed over several years and which function at a high level of accuracy. Now is the time to start breaking into new markets outside the US. Having recently completed an on the ground survey of the Asian market, its analysis indicates it could have a big impact in this region, both with existing terminals and the green field sites awaiting exploitation. 'There are local suppliers in Asia which are currently doing better than US or European providers, but the market could welcome outside companies. There is plenty of room for more players and opportunities to set up partnerships. 'We are now pursuing a global marketing strategy that will see us establish a presence in Asia as well as in Europe and South America,' says Ramsey. 'We want to show the world what can be achieved with our OCR systems. As a starting point, we have now opened an office in Belgium. This will house operations management as well as technical resources to support new APS customer installations in Europe and our growing base of customers worldwide. Automating terminal tracking and site access 'Automating the flow of cargo in to and out of ports and rail terminals via gate, rail and quayside crane operations is the mainstay for our business,' says Ramsey. 'However, the systems are being used for alphanumeric data capture regardless of what they are applied to. There is clear growth potential outside what we currently consider to be our niche market. Central to each APS solution is imaging technology that enables users to leverage technology and improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of their operations.' Where tankers, trucks, railcars and possibly barges are loaded with petroleum or chemical products, managing and accounting for movements through the terminal has to be a priority not simply for inventory control but also for security. It is essential to record details of all vehicles and persons entering or leaving the site. To read this article in full you will need to subscribe to Tank Storage Magazine or buy the back-issue. Click here for further details