Certain reports, and some as recent as July 2015, would have you believe that all of the aboveground storage tanks in the country are full to the brim, and oil companies are desperately searching for a means of storing even more crude oil.
According to a June 8 CNBC article, several steel storage tanks in the Midwest are more than 80% full. Don’t be fooled; this isn’t the norm. In fact, most tanks across the U.S., including closely regulated API tanks, are at just 28% of their capacity. That number is desperately low. To put that into perspective, tanks must be 20% full to “support the roof and operate the pipes and other equipment,” Reuters continues. Why aren’t companies filling these tanks to their full capacity?
Too Much Caution?
API tank standards, along with other industry regulations, not only ensure quality oil products — they also demand the safest possible storage. While these standards are very effective at preventing wear and tear, weather-related events, and emergencies, they can take a toll on tank efficiency (although many agree the trade off is worth it). For example, according to these standards, oil tanks can’t be 100% full. There must be some room at all times to ship crude oil into and out of the tank, and to maintain optimal conditions.
Finding Possible Solutions
Of course, tanks can store as much as possible and all while running as effectively as possible, with some planning. Something as simple as a plan outlining operations over the next few months can make an incredible difference, Reuters continues. Officials also advise having more than one — or plans that take short-term inconveniences (such as late shipments) into account.
U.S. storage tanks aren’t as efficient as they could be. With some careful planning, refineries can easily meet all industry regulations and safety standards while operating at the highest possible capacity. Read this for more.