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Safe storage and management of a fuel supply


This is a question that I've been asked in the field so I wanted to share it with everyone on KnowledgePoint

HLA members are often faced with questions such as: “Fuel supplies are getting erratic here and management has asked me to look into installing a fuel tank so we have our own supplies. I am concerned about safety of keeping fuel in the compound and also how I would keep track of the stocks and amount used. Any advice please? Is there another way to try to ensure that we always have fuel available? “

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Best practice from operations in the Middle East and Africa has been drawn up as follows:

Safe Storage:

Keeping diesel fuel is much safer than keeping petrol (gasoline), being less flammable. If you must store petrol, you would need to sink the tank into a pit so that any spillage would be contained. Diesel can often be stored in a tank above ground, which means that you can raise it up a couple of metres and use gravity to deliver the fuel if you do not have a pump or if your pump goes wrong. However, local safety regulations in some countries require that both types of tanks be stored underground.

First you should calculate the size of tank you need, based on your fuel usage and how often you can rely on getting supplies delivered. If you are in an insecure place and may have to evacuate your staff by vehicle, you’ll need always to keep enough fuel in the tank to fill up your entire vehicle fleet.

Ideally buy a purpose built fuel tank, which should have additional features such as water traps, which you will probably not get in a tank built from scratch. The supplier should be able to provide specialist advice and help you to locate and install the tank, as there are a number of factors to take into account. For example, you should put a roof over it as a sun shade if you are in a hot climate, and you should locate it so that any spillage would not contaminate any water supplies, such as a well.

Alternatively, you might be able to rent a tank from your fuel supplier with clauses included in the rental agreement for their care and maintenance of the equipment. You need to be aware of how to look after fuel in the long term if you are only intending to use your own supplies as a back-up and use external sources of fuel most of the time. Here is one example of useful guidance on long-term diesel storage:

Managing and monitoring Fuel Stocks and Usage:

Keeping and analysing fuel supply records is vital since it is a valuable resource and once fuel goes missing, it is difficult to track it down.

You need to be able to check how much fuel is in the tank at any time. Often this is done by “dipping” with a measuring rod. You should have the tank calibrated when it is first installed. Then you can cross-check on deliveries against the amount claimed by the fuel supplier, and check the levels regularly (e.g. on a daily or weekly basis) against the amount of fuel issued. The more you use it, the more often you should check, and even if no fuel has been issued during the week, it is still worth checking.

You will also need a secure system to check and record the amount of fuel issued to vehicle drivers ... (more)

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