Tank Storage Magazine v13 i02


Volume: 13
Issue: 2
Date Published: March 24, 2017



It's all about location

With the trappings of a world-class, multipurpose commercial gateway, the Port of Duqm has ambitions to become one of the largest ports in the Middle East. The Port of Duqm is all about leveraging the untapped opportunities that Oman can offer in the global energy markets. Located on the southeastern seaboard of Oman and easily accessible from the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, the port offers alternative opportunities from other key hubs in the Middle East, namely its distance from the Strait of Hormuz chokepoint. It is this strategic geopolitical location thatthe Omani government is capitalising on with its special economic zone (SEZ) project, which comprises a new airport, a tourism zone, a fisheries zone as well as a mineral cluster and industrial zone on a 2,000 square kilometreparcel of land.

A Middle Eastern first

The completion of Project Black Pearl, expanding Vopak Horizon Fujairah’s capacity to store crude oil, makes it one of the largest independent oil terminals in the world. Vopak Horizon Fujairah proudly holds the accolade for the first independent crude oil capacity in the Middle East with open access and VLCC access. Following the completion of its 7th expansion phase, known as Project Black Pearl, the facility, which started operations in 1998, now boasts a total storage capacity of 2.6 million m3. The expansion exclusively focused on crude oil storage and added 478,000 m3 of storage spread across five tanks. The project also involved the addition of one manifold and a pipeline connection to the VLCC jetty as well as other jetties in the Port of Fujairah.

Securing safety excellence in storage

A Dutch Safety Board report in the wake of Odfjell’s high-profile safety incident in 2012 reveals that while worthwhile improvements have been made at high-risk companies, there is still more to be done. The high-profile safety incident at Odfjell Terminals Rotterdam was a wake-up call for high risk companies and authorities in the sector. The unmanaged safety situation, which led to the shutdown of the entire facility, had a significant impact on the sector that is subject to the Major Accidents (Risks) Decree and resulted in a series of recommendations issued by the Dutch Safety Board. Since then all relevant parties have taken steps to address safety deficiencies and have implemented recommendations from the board’s 2013 report.

A gateway to global business

The second largest petrochemical, oil and gas hub in the UAE boasts a flourishing investment climate for tank terminal operators and acts as a crucial gateway for global trade. The Hamriyah Free Zone is positioned inone of the most promising regions for future global oil and gas markets and its growth trajectory makes it an attractive destination for international trade. The Free Zone in Sharjah, which is considered to be one of the fastest growing in the Middle East, sits on a 22 square kilometre parcel of land and its oil and gas zone has access to a 14 meter deep water port and an extensive pipeline network to several storage operators within the area. Uniquely located at the intersection between three continents the Free Zone can take advantage of several international trade routes, connecting energy supply from the east to the west. MENA countries account for 58% of proven global crude oil reserves, making it a key region for future global oil markets.

Storage: a rapid growth story

When it comes to global tank storage, it is very much a story of rapid expansion and growth as energy markets grapple with the ongoing oil market oversupply and demand increases. According to the International Energy Agency’s Market Report Series: Oil 2017 – its five-year oil market forecast – investments in storage are continuing globally due to the ongoing oversupply and the increase in demand expected over the next few years. Currently, 226 mb (million barrels) of capacity is under construction or part of an expansion globally, which is enough to facilitate 2.3 additional days of global consumption. The report surmises that a further 386 mb of capacity could be built, based on existing plans, however not all of it will be. Of the capacity being built, only 40% is taking place in the OECD.

Ethanol is not petrol - test results raise fire safety issues

The Etankfire project provides a platform of knowledge to ensure proper investment in fire protection of ethanol storage facilities and phase 1 of the project is now complete. It included two large scale free-burning tests and 43 tank fire extinguishing tests in reduced scale. The results clearly show many important differences between ethanol and other hydrocarbon fuels, e.g. petrol, both in terms of burning behavior and firefighting possibilities. If these differences are not considered properly by the industry, there is a serious risk both for a rapid fire escalation and a total loss, possibly of multiple tanks, as the use of conventional firefighting tactics and equipment most likely would fail.

Oil logistics: the highest level of data exchange fidelity

Varo Energy uses iGOS Data Exchange to communicate with customers and suppliers. In 2014, Swiss-based petroleum company Varo Energy experienced a huge jump in profits after it had acquired 45% of the Bayernoil refining company along with the sales buiness of various tank storage facilities in southern Germany. To make sure that day-to-day operations ran smoothly from the first day of the takeover, Implico set up a complex network of data connections in just a few weeks. Since then, Varo has benefited from the high-data quality and speed of the order and shipping data transferred between the company’s headquarters in Cham and all of its customers and suppliers. As is often the case with takeovers, there was a real sense of urgency to get everything completed as quickly as possible. Within eight weeks, Implico had set up all the communication links in its data center that were needed to deal with the new business operations in southern Germany.

Tank degassing and cleaning with encapsulator agents

For many years, encapsulator technology has been used effectively for routine maintenance and emergency applications involving aboveground storage tanks (AST) and the safe decommissioning of underground storage tanks (UST). The ability of this technology to encapsulate hydrocarbon fuels and render them non-flammable, non-ignitable and non-explosive makes it unsurpassed in tank degassing and cleaning methodologies. Using encapsulator technology to degas and clean tanks leads to positive impacts on the bottom line profitability of a company. Encapsulator technology is the 'leading edge’ method to quickly reduce the presence of LEL’s, providing a safe working environment with less downtime for the onsite maintenance crew. No other method has been proven to be more economical and efficient when used in this type of application.

Integrated terminal automation solution facilitates remote depot management

Automation and tank gauging software allowed oil distributor to expand services and cut costs. The commissioning of a new unmanned depot to expand the geographical reach of one of Ireland’s leading oil distributors required a proven terminal automation and tank gauging system. Flynn Fuels, part of Thomas Flynn & Sons, supplies home heating oil, diesel, petrol and lubricants. They wanted to expand their operations by commissioning a new depot atAthlone. MHT Technology were tasked with supplying the terminal automation and tank gauging solution capable of running this new, unmanned site. The new site at Athlone was to have a tanker loading skid fed from four storagetanks. MHT worked closely with Flynn Fuels to discuss their requirements and design a suitable solution.

Risk management or risk blindness?

If you want senior management to pay attention give them something that challenges their focus – and understand that their focus is on the growth and sustainability of their business; not necessarily on compliance issues.Their focus is on business survivability – will we be in business tomorrow given the issues that we face today? What is more important to an organisation’s compliance – the myriad of regulations or where competition will be coming from in the future? Some definitions will help to form the basis for why there is a roadblock to sustainability and the potential crisis that leadership faces:

Avoiding costly pitfalls of floating roof seals

Floating roof seals seem relatively straightforward. Many tank engineers treat seals as an afterthought, delegating seal decisions to tank maintenance contractors and this may be fine most of the time. However, there are a handful of critical pitfalls that, when combined with the right circumstances, can lead to serious problems such as tank fires and sunken roofs. Seal selection and certain design considerations are important when choosing floating roof seals as is adhering to the relevant regulations and laws and applicable safety protocol.

Detecting the leak and reducing the costs

Infrastructure failures or human error can increase a plethora of risks in newly built storage tanks, but especially older storage facilities. The presence of an immediate leak warning system is crucial as it is the last sentinel before escalation to a disaster and it should be the conclusion of a site risk assessment. The avoidance of environmental regulations violations, loss of product, fire and explosion, fatality, and damage to internal and third party property are all good reasons to invest in proven-in-use early warning oil leak and spill detection systems.WHERE TO MONITOR IN A TANK FARM1. Groundwater monitoringEven sophisticated tank gauging systems cannot detect small leaks of oil or fuel from large tanks to groundwater. Current health standards allow drinking water to contain less than 1 ppm of hydrocarbons.

Staying ahead with digitalisation in tank storage

Automated processes are essential for storage operators to achieve efficiency, reducing total cost of ownership and staying ahead of competition, especially in volatile markets. Process control is an integrated part of an automation system from the field device level up to the management execution level. Looking at the value chain of tank farms and terminals, there are also several underlying systems such as communications, electrical or fire and gas detection. A modular tank management system such as SITAS TMS can be used on its own. What happens in reality is that it operates within an existing infrastructure, for instance with Siemens Sitrans instrumentation, the Siemens process control and safety system Simatic PCS 7, Siemens XHQ enterprise operations intelligence and 3rd party MES/ERP solutions.

Protecting a storage terminal's most valuable assets

Protecting the safety of workers as they carry out vital tank cleaning for inspection, maintenance and repair projects isof paramount importance for storage facilities, refineries and operators. Previously, when conducting aboveground storage tank cleaning, inspection and repairs, workers could only rely on antiquated wooden cribbing stacks, which could significantly compromise their safety. David Bush, the sole inventor and patent holder of the Delta P Technology was called upon to lead and perform IDLH confined space rescue missions in aboveground storage tanks for the past 15 years. In an interview with Tank Storage Magazine, he says: ‘The rescue missions that involved collapsed floating roofs were all recoveries. There were too many bodies and when one man was cut in half by a collapsing roof, I decided that enough was enough.’