Fuel Truck - Oil Tanks

How to Manage Fuel Issues in Winter

Prevent Winter Fuel Problems to Ensure Business Continuity

As we enter not just the cold and wet winter months, the challenges are unfortunately heightened. It’s imperative that you are aware of any fuel related issues to ensure your sites remain operational.

With many businesses having to close their doors to the public during the Coronavirus pandemic, logistics companies are working tirelessly to ensure their operations can meet increased demand. But with higher demand comes a rise in remedials.

Invest in regular fuel tests and tank inspections

Stored fuel is more at risk of contamination during the cold months from increased rainfall and lower temperatures as is your fuel tank. So, while it may fall to the bottom of the priority list, it’s the lifeblood of your operations and it’s therefore imperative not to neglect them, the hazard of poor quality fuel and risk to the business operation is huge and the potential environmental impact on tank failure could be catastrophic.

Testing fuel from the tank and conducting a full lab analysis can flag up any potential gremlins that could be hiding in your fuel stock. High water content in damp wintery conditions are common place in a fuel tank but spotting this early stops the potential growth of bugs and algae which can then cause engine failure by filter blocking.

Regular fuel and tank maintenance has never been more important in ensuring business continuity. Professional fuel testing and tank inspections will detect any areas of your fuel system that pose a risk to your business, giving you complete peace of mind that this area of your business is protected.

Ensure tanks are professionally cleaned to prolong fuel lifespan

It is no secret in the industry that clean tanks mean clean fuel, if you carry out the above inspections and there is cause for concern the next step would be fuel removal and tank cleaning by man or robot entry.

Most contaminates in a fuel tank will naturally fall to the bottom and turn into a sludge over time, this is the target area on a tank clean but generally on a full invasive industrial clean all areas of the tank are covered (depending on size).

If any fuel tanks are going to be left empty for an extended period of time, it’s important to use a professional company to ensure they are made safe. We can clean them, uplift the fuel (potentially offer a rebate) and even remove the tank if it’s no longer required. This is known as decommissioning.

Our engineers have the complete skillset and are all qualified and have the necessary confined space qualifications.

Protect tanks and pipes from corrosion and physical damage

Regular housekeeping of fuel tanks and pipes by cleaning is the best way to keep your fuel clean but what about the integrity of the steel holding your asset. Keep in mind that metal tanks should be examined by NDT (None Destructive Testing) at least every 5 years in some cases, rising to a maximum of 10 years in all other cases; it’s important not to forget about the associated pipework.

Tanks and pipes are particularly liable to damage during freezing temperatures and extreme weather where the metal has deteriorated, if left untested poses a significant risk to business and environment if the steel fractures of bursts under the pressure of the fuel.

By investing in NDT testing, carrying out basic repairs and addressing any issues even if its rust treatment and painting you can prevent leaks, reduce the risks of environmental damage and eliminate the loss of valuable fuel.

Check bund integrity ahead of the winter

Temperature fluctuations, like those seen when we move from autumn to winter, can cause your bund lining to crack and perish. This increases the risk of fuel leaking into the environment and reduces the likelihood of costly downtime and environmental fines. You should also check the pump and valve drains on your bunds to reduce the risk of flooding.

Keep an emergency fuel supplier on hand

The pandemic has brought large fluctuations in demand which unfortunately makes it harder to monitor fuel levels and increases the risk of running your tanks dry. Having an emergency fuel supplier like Crown Oil who is on hand 24/7 will help prevent the costly and inconvenience of site downtime.

Stock up on winter grade diesel

With freezing temperatures looming, it’s important to be aware of the potential problems that can arise during the colder months. Diesel-powered engines can experience operative problems such as difficulty starting and even engine failure if summer grade of diesel is used.

While replenishing fuel stocks may not be a priority, it’s important to remember that gas oil differs in seasonal specification. Its fuel properties are adjusted to maintain good low-temperature performance and operability.

Winter diesel can be used all year round as it’s more resistant to the cold (-12oC CFPP min). Summer diesel is only certified for use during the warm weather as it has a limited resistance to the cold (-4oC CFPP min), which means it’s more prone to diesel waxing in cold temperatures. Crown Oil Environmental can test this fuel and advise on what you have in your tanks.

Choose HVO fuel, a long-life diesel alternative

An even better move to take is to swap your diesel for Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), an advanced renewable fuel.

HVO has a paraffinic petrochemical structure, and although similar with regards to energy content, viscosity and flash point, the lack of aromatic and naphthenic compounds in HVO mean it doesn’t have the same detrimental effects as fossil diesel, such as high emissions, deposit formation, storage stability problems and poor low temperature properties.

HVO’s production process removes unsaturation and contaminants, leaving a pure hydrocarbon fuel with a shelf life of up to 10 years, compared to just 1 for diesel. This makes it perfect for use in backup generators, where the fuel is likely to stand unused for extended periods of time.

Invest in tank telemetry

Traditional methods of monitoring fuel required staff to be trained and onsite to continually monitor usage and the quality of fuel stored. But with many staff now working from home and a reduced number of personnel allowed onsite, businesses must seek alternative methods to keep on top of your fuel.

Advancements in fuel technology now allow for remote monitoring at just the click of a button. Through the instalment of sensors inside tanks, telemetry systems provide confidence that not only will you never run out of fuel but the fuel is also of good enough quality to be relied on in a time critical situation.

Consider a tank recirculation system

When fuel is left dormant for extended periods, microbial growth (diesel bug) develops, which can wreak havoc on your stored fuel and machinery. With many sites temporarily closed or consuming fuel at a reduced rate, this could be a huge problem for your business.

A tank recirculation system helps prevent stored fuel from becoming stagnant. It’s particularly useful for generator back up tanks, which while not consistently used, are of critical importance.

Tank recirculation systems keep the fuel moving and therefore help to prevent contaminant build-up and avoid expensive equipment damage and downtime.

The clean fuel is then circulated back into the fuel tank before any bugs have been able to accumulate and form sludge on the bottom of the tank.

Get in touch with Crown Oil Environmental

The Coronavirus isn’t going anywhere, so it’s important to learn how to manage fuel-related risk during the pandemic, particularly the winter months to ensure business continuity and avoid the high-cost implications of unplanned downtime.

Get in touch with Crown Oil Environmental today, we are available 24/7, 7 days a week to ensure your business isn’t affected by fuel-related issues.

Enquire about a service