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Fuel storage capacity at service stations

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Posted in: | Written by: Jeff Hunter | Posted on: Thursday, July 26, 2012

Have you ever wondered how much fuel is stored at your local service station or how many underground storage tanks (USTs) are necessary per site?  For the past quarter-century it was somewhat standard to have 2-3 underground storage tanks with an 8,000 or 10,000 gallon capacity.  Station owners could store several grades of gasoline and diesel.  This allowed manufacturers to build and inventory a large amount of tanks for a wide variety of buyers.    

This is no longer the case today! Underground storage tanks are built to order due to new advances in tank technology and ever changing market conditions. Market size, location, fuel types, property layout, and let’s not forget fluctuating fuel prices, can all impact an owner’s final decision on the number and size of tanks to purchase. USTs are getting bigger and along with multiple grades of gasoline, renewable fuels are now entering the market.  Secondary containment, compartments, and special fitting orientation are norms.    

The Steel Tank Institute decided to research the new, not so typical tank purchase. By surveying buyers, they were able to get a better idea on what is being ordered today. From the June Steel Tank newsletter, here is a sample of their findings.    

  • Two 20,000 gallon tanks (40,000 gallons total), each with two compartments, creating storage capacities of 15,000, 5,000, 12,000, and 8,000 gallons
  • Two 12,000 gallon tanks and one 20,000 gallon tank (44,000 gallons total)
  • A 20,000 gallon UST for regular gasoline, a 12,000 gallon for premium, and a 6,000 gallon for diesel (38,000 gallons)
  • Two 30,000 gallon compartmentalized tanks (60,000 gallons total)
  • Some petroleum marketers anticipate fluctuating fuel prices and install more capacity so they can buy and store additional fuel when it is offered at lower prices—for example, two 20,000 gallon tanks, one 15,000 gallon tank, and one 12,000 gallon tank (67,000 gallons total)
  • One 25,000 gallon tank and one 22,000 gallon tank, split into two compartments (47,000 gallons total)
  • Stores that dispense biofuels separately may install total tank capacities as great as 60,000 gallons. At a truck stop, diesel tank storage can be another 30,000 gallons or more.
  • Small mom-and-pop stores install less capacity, perhaps two 12,000 gallon tanks (24,000 gallons total)
  • In extremely rural areas, a single 20,000 gallon tank with multi-compartments might be installed.  

For more information visit the STI/ SPFA – Steel Tank Institute/ Steel Plate Fabricators Association.

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