Cutting your losses; reducing the risk
The losses incurred as a result of a catastrophic crude oil spill can sink entire operations, and often make headline news. However, far more revenue is lost through day-to-day shipping incidents and low-level negligence. This can be mitigated through the proper introduction of loss-prevention mechanisms, but what are the safest and most cost-effective measures to implement?
There are many reasons for the loss of fuel in transit, and therefore a multifacted approach to ensuring efficiency, profit retention, and safety must be taken. We examine a strong strategy for fuel protection below.
Inspection and maintenance of oil transfer equipment
The first step towards the reduction of oil losses during vehicle transportation lies in the inspection of key components and equipment.
The quality of equipment used is of utmost importance, so the technician you hire to inspect and maintain your tankers should be eminently capable.
In addition to routine checks, repairs and maintenance should be conducted as soon as issues arise, and should also form part of a proactive strategy of prevention:
- Ensure that the vital components are inspected to ensure they aren’t leaking, including the oil pump, pipeline, valve, and oil discharge valve;
- Monitor the positive and negative pressure of the breathing valve to make sure that it is at a moderate level, and that the valve operating device is guaranteed to be effective when functioning;
- Once the tanker in poor condition is identified, the supply of oil should be stopped immediately.
Strict implementation of safety technology
Oil losses can sometimes occur due to negligence on basic safety requirements needed for operations. With ever-more rapid technological advancements, the detection and correction of oil handling equipment can be streamlined to guarantee transportation safety.
Efficiency can be enhanced through the use of such technology-based tools and equipment that can help monitor any leakages and failures on the oil-carrying vessels. For preventing oil losses, the following is a list of measures to be taken:
- When filling the truck, it is recommended to strictly control the safe capacity and loading height of the tank in order to ensure that there are no oil spills or splash;
- When filling the oil drum, care should be taken to ensure no oil leaks from the reservoir;
- When loading and unloading oil, the remaining oil at the bottom of the tank should be sucked;
- Used oil drums and the bottom of every barrel should be cleaned and drained;
- In the process of cleaning the oil tank, the remaining oil at the bottom of the tank should be removed.
Monitoring the use of oil tanks to reduce evaporation losses
A considerable volume of oil gets wasted during both operations and handling. For this reason, the use of oil tanks should be well planned and diligently monitored to cut down on losses due to evaporation.
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Notable elements of your approach may include:
- Strengthening the management of the use of oil tanks, and avoiding unnecessary changing;
- Ensuring a reasonable use of oil tanks, minimising the empty capacity, and reducing the heating area of the tank and the evaporation area of the oil;
- Reducing the number of transmissions between the same types of oil tanks, and striving to reduce large respiratory losses – all necessary transmission and measurement should be carried out as much as possible when the pressure is balanced inside and outside the tank.
Minimising frequent oil transfers and handling
Some losses occur when handling, loading and unloading oil. Losses can be significantly reduced during the pumping in and pumping out of oil. Where possible, oil should not be transferred to various equipment and compartments before arriving at its destination.
The more exchanges along the supply chain, the greater the risk of losses. For this reason, direct transportation is highly recommended.
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Additionally, increased handling and pumping requires additional expenditure that would not have existed if the transportation was done directly.
Implementing measures to reduce storage loss by the ground tank
The challenges associated with oil transportation may also arise from issues with the storage of oil in a ground tank – not just through haulage. Any loss through the ground tank should, therefore, be addressed by taking the following measures:
- Applying a strong reflective silver-grey paint to the surface of the tank;
- Cooling the water at the top of the tank to reduce loss;
- Ensuring that the tank tops are fitted with insulation;
- Building a protective wall around the tank to reduce the radiation area of the sun.
Losses occurring during oil transportation can be consequential to the owner and at the same time attract third-party liability.
The oil industry has always faced challenges in the transportation of oil hence the need to take the necessary precaution to make the process safer and minimize on losses.
Technology has helped a lot in determining any weak areas of the oil carrying equipment that may need attention before the transportation, but other causes have been due to human interference and negligence on basic standard practice in the handling and transportation of oil. To address these issues, following even some of the solutions discussed here can really help to cut down on the losses in vehicle oil transportation practices.
John Shang is a general manager of Anster, specialising in fuel transportation, project cargo, heavy haulage, and heavy lift transport.