Regulations for Domestic and Commercial Oil Storage Tanks, Drums, and Bowsers

Storing oil for domestic or commercial use can offer significant benefits, but it also entails high responsibility. Whether you plan to store oil on your property or are considering a property with an existing storage facility, there are a few things that you should look for.

This blog will explore all those factors, including commercial and domestic oil storage tank regulations and precautions.

Regulations for Domestic and Commercial Oil Storage Tanks, Drums, and Bowsers
Regulations for Domestic and Commercial Oil Storage Tank

Key Points to Understand Before Storing Oil

Regulatory Compliance:

Understand and comply with relevant oil storage tank regulations for both domestic and commercial purposes. This ensures the safety of the environment, property, and individuals.

Proper Storage Infrastructure:

Ensure that your storage facility, such as tanks or containers, meets the necessary standards and requirements for storing oil safely. This includes material quality, capacity, secondary containment, and installation considerations.

Location Considerations:

Select an appropriate location for your storage facility, taking into account factors such as proximity to water sources, neighbouring properties, and safety hazards. Follow recommended setbacks and distance requirements to mitigate potential risks.

Maintenance and Inspections:

Regularly inspect and maintain your storage facility to promptly identify and address any issues. This includes checking for leaks, corrosion, structural integrity, and proper functioning of equipment, such as pumps and valves.

Spill Response and Contingency Plans:

Develop and implement spill response and contingency plans to effectively address and mitigate potential oil spills or leaks. This includes having appropriate spill containment materials, emergency contact information, and procedures for prompt response and reporting.

Training and Awareness:

Ensure that individuals involved in the oil storage facility’s handling, storage, and maintenance are adequately trained on safety protocols, emergency procedures, and proper handling practices. Promote awareness of potential risks and safety measures among all relevant personnel.

Make the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner burning alternatives such as HVO fuel

Domestic Oil Tank Regulations

If you have an above-ground fuel storage tank at your residential property in the UK, and its capacity is below 3500 litres, the following regulations apply:

Storage of up to 30 Litres:

You are not required to notify the regional Petroleum Enforcement Authority (PEA) when storing up to 30 litres of oil for personal use in vehicles, boats, or aeroplanes. Different types of containers are permitted based on the volume:

  • Plastic containers can be used for up to 10 litres of fuel.
  • Metal containers are suitable for storing up to 20 litres of fuel.
  • Removable fuel tanks can store up to 30 litres of fuel.

Storage between 30 and 275 Litres:

If you need to store fuel exceeding 30 litres but below 275 litres, it is necessary to inform the local PEA. You must provide details of your storage facility and your name in writing.

Storage between 275 and 3,500 Litres:

If your storage capacity exceeds 275 litres but remains below 3500 litres, you will need to obtain a special certificate and a license from the PEA. The authority will issue a non-transferable license valid for a period of up to 3 years.

Commercial Oil Storage Tank Regulations

If the oil storage on your commercial property exceeds 200 litres or the oil storage at your home exceeds 3500 litres, you are required to adhere to the oil storage regulations applicable to commercial use. Which is applicable for:

  • Kerosene
  • Diesel
  • Petrol (Gasoline)
  • Biofuels
  • Bitumen-based Products
  • Synthetic Oils
  • Waste Oil
  • Solvent Oils

What are the Standard Types of Tanks?

  • Fixed Oil Storage Tanks
  • Intermediate Bulk Containers
  • Mobile Bowsers
  • Generators with more than 200 litters capacity
  • Oil Drum

What Materials to Use for Oil Storage Tanks?

Plastic Storage Tanks:

A plastic storage tank must comply with OFTEC standard OST T100

Advantages of Plastic Tanks:

Corrosion Resistance: Plastic tanks are generally resistant to corrosion, which makes them a suitable choice for storing many liquids, including water, chemicals, and fuels.

Lightweight: Plastic tanks are lighter compared to metal tanks and are easier to transport, manoeuvre and install.

Versatility: Plastic tanks can be moulded into various shapes and sizes, offering flexibility in meeting specific storage needs.

Cost-Effective: Plastic tanks are often more affordable compared to metal tanks, providing a cost-effective storage solution.

Easy Maintenance: Plastic tanks are relatively easy to clean and maintain, requiring less effort and resources compared to metal tanks.

Disadvantages of Plastic Tanks:

Limited Temperature Resistance: Some plastic tanks may have temperature limitations, and exposure to extreme temperatures can lead to warping or degradation of the material.

Vulnerable to UV Degradation: Certain plastic tanks may be susceptible to UV degradation when exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods. UV-stabilized materials can mitigate this issue.

Reduced Impact Resistance: Plastic tanks may be less impact-resistant compared to metal tanks, and they can be prone to cracking or puncturing if subjected to strong impacts.

Metal Storage Tanks:

Meta tanks must satisfy OFTEC standard OST T200 or BS 799-5

Advantages of Metal Tanks:

Strength and Durability: They are highly durable and suitable for storing heavy liquids, such as petroleum products or chemicals.

Excellent Temperature Resistance: Metal tanks can withstand extreme weather and temperature conditions.

Fire Resistance: Metal tanks, especially steel tanks, have inherent fire-resistant properties, providing additional safety in storing flammable liquids.

Long Lifespan: Well-maintained metal tanks can have a long lifespan, making them a reliable storage option for many years.

Disadvantages of Metal Tanks:

Corrosion Risk: Metal tanks can be susceptible to corrosion over time, especially when storing corrosive liquids without proper coating or lining.

Higher Weight: Metal tanks are typically heavier than plastic tanks, which can make installation and transportation more challenging.

Higher Cost: Metal tanks, especially those made from stainless steel or specialised alloys, tend to be more expensive compared to plastic tanks.

Maintenance and Inspection: Metal tanks may require more frequent maintenance and inspection to prevent corrosion, ensure structural integrity, and address any potential leaks or damages.

Regulations for Domestic and Commercial Oil Storage
Domestic and Commercial Oil Storage Tanks, Drums, and Bowsers

Considerations before installing a Storage Tank?

There are a few Domestic oil tank installation regulations that must be followed while installing a storage tank:

  • The tank should be installed in a location where it is easy to refill and maintain.
  • It must have sufficient strength to fulfil its intended purpose.
  • A secondary containment system should be in place to prevent leakage in the event of tank failure.
  • A distance of 10 meters must be maintained from coastal and freshwater sources.
  • Keep a minimum distance of 50 meters from any drinking water source.
  • Polyethene tanks should meet the OFS T100 Firing Equipment Standard.
  • Steel tanks should meet the OFS T200 Firing Equipment Standard.

How to Choose the Location of an Oil Storage Tank?

Commercial and domestic fuel tank regulations suggest the following considerations:

  • Store the fuel tank on floor level or below ground.
  • Avoid placing the fuel tank above the roof level.
  • Ensure easy accessibility for refilling and maintenance purposes.
  • Choose a location where there is no risk of damage from impacts.
  • Prioritise the safety and protection of the fuel tank.

Connections and fittings for Oil Storage Tanks

Secondary Bunds

Secondary bunds are structures constructed around storage tanks to provide an additional containment measure. They are typically made from materials like brick masonry or concrete, chosen for their durability and resistance to oil permeation. Secondary bunds can either be separate constructions surrounding the oil container or an integral part of the tank system’s outer shell. Their purpose is to contain any oil leakage from the tank, preventing it from reaching the surrounding environment.

The specific regulations governing secondary bunds can vary, depending on local requirements and the type of storage facility. However, there are some common considerations:

Capacity: The secondary bund must have a capacity of at least 110% of the oil tank it is intended to contain. This allows for the containment of the full volume of the tank plus a safety margin.

Multiple Tanks: In situations where the bund accommodates multiple tanks, its capacity should be a minimum of 110% of the largest tank’s volume or 25% of the combined capacity of all the tanks within the bund.

Durability: Bunds should be constructed using non-corrosive materials to ensure their longevity and resistance to degradation from the stored oil.

Underground Tanks: If the storage tanks are located underground, additional requirements may apply, such as a minimum life expectancy of 20 years for the bund.

Drip Trays:

Drip trays are commonly used for smaller containers, such as drums, to capture any oil spillage or drips that may occur. They are placed beneath the containers to collect any potential leaks or spills. It is important to ensure that the capacity of the drip tray is 25% or more than the total volume of the drums it is intended to contain. This ensures that the tray has sufficient capacity to accommodate the entire contents of the drums, including any additional volume resulting from spillage.

Fill Point:

This is the opening through which oil is delivered into the tank. It typically includes a cap or covers to prevent debris, water, or unauthorised access. A suitable connection or adapter is required to connect the delivery hose or pipe.

Vent Pipe:

An oil storage tank needs a vent pipe to allow the tank to breathe as oil is added or removed. The vent pipe prevents the build-up of vacuum or excessive pressure within the tank. It usually extends above the tank’s highest level and may have a cap or screen to prevent the entry of insects or debris.

Gauge and Alarm Systems:

Oil tanks often have a gauge system to indicate the oil level inside the tank. This can be a mechanical float gauge or an electronic system that provides accurate readings. Additionally, an alarm system may be installed to warn of high or low oil levels, leaks, or other critical conditions.


To ensure proper safety and accessibility, the pump should be positioned outside of any secondary containment unit. It should be located away from the delivery routes to prevent any potential damage during fuel delivery. Installing the pump in an open-air environment helps minimise the risk of hazardous fume accumulation.

Couplings and Screws:

Regular inspection of the fixed couplings and screws is essential for the system’s smooth operation. It is important to check them for erosion or signs of wear and tear, as this can affect their performance and integrity.

Outlet Pipe:

The outlet pipe is used to connect the oil tank to the heating system or equipment that utilises the stored oil. It may include a shut-off valve or a filter to prevent debris from entering the system.

Overfill Prevention Device:

To prevent overfilling, an overfill prevention device, such as an electronic sensor or mechanical valve, can be installed. This device stops the delivery of oil when the tank fills up to its safe limit.

Bund Drain:

In tanks with secondary containment (bunding), a drain or sump is typically installed to collect any oil that may leak or spill from the primary tank. This drain should be connected to a suitable collection system to prevent environmental contamination.

Tank Inspection Hatch:

Large oil storage tanks often have an inspection hatch or manhole cover to allow access for maintenance, inspections, and cleaning purposes. It provides a means for personnel to enter the tank if necessary.

Tips to Maintain Storage Tank Safety

Regular Inspections: Conduct routine inspections to identify corrosion, leaks, and damaged fittings.

Leak Detection: Implement a system to quickly identify leaks, such as alarms or electronic monitoring.

Secondary Containment: Ensure the tank is equipped with proper secondary containment, like bunding or drip trays.

Proper Ventilation: Maintain adequate ventilation to prevent fumes accumulation.

Maintenance of Fittings and Connections: Regularly check and replace faulty components to maintain system integrity.

Training and Education: Provide training on safety protocols and emergency procedures.

Spill Response Plan: Develop a plan to address spills and communicate procedures to personnel.

Regulatory Compliance: Ensure compliance and stay updated on regulations.

Record-Keeping: Maintain complete and accurate records of maintenance and inspections, maintenance.

Professional Guidance: Seek expert advice to ensure compliance and best practices.

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