• How Are Fuels Stored?

Measurement and Testing

How Are Fuels Stored?

Jan 27 2022

From the moment fossil fuels are extracted from reservoirs and bought to the surface, storage becomes a main concern. Different storage solutions are used depending on what stage of the upstream, midstream or downstream journey the fuel is on.

Read on for a closer look at how fuels are stored:

At petrol stations

Forecourts are generally the final point of sale for crude oil, with motorists pulling in, choosing their grade and filling up their tanks. Most petrol stations store fuel in underground tanks, with pumps used to bring fuel to the surface. Fuel delivery companies are enlisted to refill the tanks and transport fuel from refineries to forecourts. Some forecourts use aboveground storage tanks, though they’re not as common.

At natural gas sites

Natural gas is usually stored underground, at pressure. The most common storage facilities are depleted reservoirs located at natural gas and oil fields, aquifers and subterranean salt caverns. Natural gas can also be stored in aboveground tanks, in either liquid or gas form.

At refineries

Refineries are the middle ground for incoming and outgoing resources. Large storage tanks are used to store raw materials when they first arrive at the refinery. Onsite tanks are also used to store finished products after they’ve been processed and are awaiting transport to their next destination.

On ships

Fossil fuels account for a huge 40% of maritime trade, with ships used to transport resources around the world. Crude oil tankers are designed to exclusively carry petroleum, with some of the largest vessels capable of transporting 550,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT). Most ships feature multiple tanks, each split into two or three compartments. Cofferdams are installed between these compartments to protect cargo from fire, heat, impact and other dangers.  

Often, oil tankers double as storage solutions, particularly in a saturated market. In April 2020, analysts estimated an estimated 160 million barrels of oil were being stored offshore on tankers. The glut was largely fuelled by the slump in demand triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Specialised ships are used to transport LPG, LNG, CNG and other gases. When transporting hydrogen in gaseous form, high-pressure tanks are required. As a liquid, super cooled tanks are needed to keep hydrogen at -253°C.

Cargo ships account for around 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. To curb the industry’s environmental footprint, legislations for marine fuels are becoming increasingly strict. Find out more in ‘Marine fuels compatibility testing by automated instrumentation according to ASTM D4740.’


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