UNBS to verify Underground Fuel Tanks

By Emmanuel Opio

In the recent past, the number of complaints related to fuel shortages, losses and custody transfer have greatly increased in the oil and gas industry. In a bid to address these challenges, UNBS through the Department of Legal Metrology is proposing a regulation- the Weights and Measures (Static tanks) Rules; for the verification of static/fixed storage tanks used for trade or custody transfer.

Fixed/static storage tanks are reservoirs at atmospheric pressure or under pressure built for bulk liquid storage and may be used for the measurement of quantities (volume or mass) of liquid contained. The most common shapes of the tanks are:

  • cylindrical with vertical or horizontal axis, and with flat, conical, truncated, hemispherical, elliptical or dome-shaped bottom or ends;
  • spherical or spheroidal;
  • Parallelepiped.

The verification rules spell out among others, Legal and technical requirements of static tanks used in trade or custody transfer, their  Metrological characteristics, Metrological requirements, responsibilities/obligations of owner and consequences relating to beach of the regulation.

With these Rules, UNBS will carry out underground tank calibration and tank leak detection services to ensure accurate results, while minimizing disruption to fuel retail operations.

The Regulation proposes the following;

  • Every tank in operation prior to this regulation shall be required to undergo mandatory verification.
  • All static tanks in use shall be periodically inspected and verified when suspected to have errors or in any case not later than the verification mark expiry date.
  • All new static tanks shall undergo initial verification and pressure testing before commissioning by UNBS.
  • The tanks shall be built in accordance with sound engineering practice;
  • All new static tanks shall undergo pattern approval as provided for under the Weights and Measures (Pattern Approval) Rules 2020.
  • It is the responsibility of the owner to cause their static tank to be verified before expiry date of the verification mark.

Some of the benefits of this regulation include;

    • Reduction in customer complaints related to fuel shortages, losses and custody transfer among transporters and facility managers.
    • Improved stock management and monitoring
    • Fair trade through promotion of correct measurements
    • Improved standards of static tanks through encouragement of sound engineering practices
    • Improved customer satisfaction
    • Enhanced early warning of environmental degradation caused by leaky tanks through pressure tests.

Given the aforementioned background, there is need to provide solutions to negate what might arise out of these challenges if left unattended to and thus the proposal of the Weights and Measures (Static tanks) Rules.

The writer is a Senior Legal Metrologist at the Uganda National Bureau of Standards