Published 10th July 2023

Fuel Storage Solutions is an award-winning OFTEC registered provider of complete commercial and industrial fuel storage solutions.

OFTEC registration is a requirement in our industry for our company and individual engineers who work for us. OFTEC stands for the Oil Firing Technical Association. It is a ‘competent persons scheme’ which recognises installers who are approved to install oil, solid fuel and renewable heating equipment and to maintain oil and solid fuel systems.

What you need to know to ensure compliance

Oil Storage Regulations

If a tank or pipeline that carries oil leaks and allows oil to enter the groundwater system can be deemed a criminal offence. If the site cannot prove that the tanks/pipelines have been regularly pressure tested/inspected by a competent person recognised by the Environment Agency (EA) or Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), they may prosecute. There are also different regulation requirements for England, Scotland, Wales and NI.

Regulation 9 states that a person with custody or control of any oil breaching the Regulations will be guilty of a criminal offence.


Best Practice vs Minimum Regulations

The governing bodies (EA, DEFRA etc) have two sets of boxes to tick when assessing compliance against regulations. These are, minimum regulation standards and, best practice.

  • If you read the regs these can be identified by “musts” and “shoulds”
  • A “must” is minimum regulation compliance. Every single install must meet this standard
  • A “should” is best practice. Best practice is subject to interpretation, but we have always offered the following justification:
  • Everyone must adhere to minimum regulation standards and larger companies best practice
  • g. A small garage with a 1,000lt waste oil tank would most likely be allowed to conform to minimum regs. A large multimillion company would not be allowed to conform to minimum regulation standards
  • The EA would expect best practice and could prosecute if only minimum standards were followed.

The location of a site also plays an important part. If there were two identical sites with two identical tanks with the first site on clay ground (impermeable to liquid) but the second site is on a rock bed with a drinking water well in the grounds. If oil were to escape the second site will always be high risk compared to the first as there is a pathway for the oil to get into the groundwater system. It must always comply with best practice.


Bulk Storage fuel tanks

Bulk tanks must be inspected annually by an OFTEC accredited person with the inspection covering the following:

  • Dip for water and remove any found as water causes corrosion which could cause the tank to fail at the base
  • Check gauges to make sure that each one is reading accurately. If a gauge is showing a certain amount of ullage then that needs to be accurate to prevent an overfill
  • If the vent/tank cannot be seen from the fill point an overfill alarm must be fitted. This must also be tested to ensure that it is working correctly
  • Is the correct tank size and grade of fuel displayed? A % gauge should only be relied on if the tank size is clearly indicated on signage
  • Check for leaks
  • Check for tank/ pipe corrosion. If corrosion is found it must be cleaned and re-sealed to prevent potential tank/ pipe failure
  • Check that the tank is suitably supported. Plastic tanks need a flat base, as supporting them on sleepers or similar will cause the base to bulge then crack
  • Pressure test underground tanks and pipes annually
  • Does the site have a suitable plan in the event of a spill and enough materials to soak up a spill to prevent the oil escaping off site?


Case Study: National High Street Bank

In order to comply with EA, SEPA, DEFRA and HSE regulations, oil tanks and pipelines must have an annual inspection by a company with a recognised accreditation. Our engineers are OFTEC (oil industry equivalent of GasSafe) OFT600a (Non-Domestic Oil Tank Installations) approved technicians. This is the only qualification that The EA recognises.

We had been inspecting and maintaining the sites in this case study for 8 years, performing pressure tests and thickness checks on tanks, pipework and pumping systems to ensure that they were tight and leak free.

The previous service provider maintained the generators on the sites and performed complimentary inspections on the oil tanks and pumps as part of generator servicing. A new FM company took over the site contract and we were their nominated specialist.

Their customer was looking into dispensing with the specialist inspections provided by us and opting for the complimentary inspections to reduce costs.

Due to our relationship with on-site personnel and our recognised expertise we were asked to carry out a first inspection on all the bank’s sites before a decision was made.

On one of the very first sites we inspected we found a pipeline with several large holes in a line taking fuel from an underground tank into the generator’s day tank. The site had been having difficulty getting fuel from the underground tank to the day tank.

The company that maintained the generators had supplied and fitted a new transfer pump system, believing that to be the cause of the problem. They had not identified that the line was leaking and that therefore, the pumps were sucking air instead of oil, meaning that oil was escaping underground!

As part of our annual inspections we pressure test all pipework. We failed the underground pipeline, immediately removing it and replacing it with a polypropylene pipe in pipe system (KPS).


Our competences in OFTEC inspections

  • We currently inspect over 1,000 sites on behalf of clients, varying from locations with a single 50lt tank, up to sites with over 1 million litres of oil
  • We operate nationally as well as in remote locations including the Orkney & Shetland Islands
  • Customer benefits from working with us:
  • Avoid prosecution and an unlimited fine if oil leaks off site
  • Avoid potentially massive clean-up costs
  • Ensure backup generators have fuel when needed
  • Avoid or minimise the environmental consequences of oil spillage
  • Avoid the potential bad press / public relations if oil contamination occurs

Have you got OFTEC inspections in hand or is it something we can arrange for you? Please call our CATS (Compliance and Technical Sales) team to discuss any requirement you have on 01274 813003.

Read more about our CATS specialists here