Stored away in salt caverns deep in the Gulf Coast region are 727 million barrels of oil. The Strategic Oil Reserve was established in 1973 to prepare for potential political conflicts and trade embargoes that could limit the US’ access to vital oil supplies.
Across the globe, other countries are starting to stockpile too. While some use out-of-the-way storage facilities like the US’ Strategic Oil Reserve, others have built dedicated oil terminals – industrial facilities for the storage of oil and other petrochemical products. These depots are usually situated close to oil refineries or marine tankers to make transportation easier.
There is typically no processing or other transformation that takes place on site at oil terminals. The products that reach the depot are in their final form and suitable for immediate delivery to customers. While there may occasionally be additives injected into products in the tanks, there is usually no further need for manufacturing.
Designed to operate as temporary storage facilities, oil terminals have tanks above or below ground that discharge products into road tankers, barges, pipelines or other means of transportation. From there, nearby petrol stations, airports and other end users can benefit from fast, efficient access to oil.
Flaring at oil terminals
Some oil terminals lack pipelines to move their product. Instead oil is trucked out of the storage tanks by moving oil onto trucks through a truck rack – a large loading station.
Just as with offshore oil and gas facilities, loading oil onto modes of transport can lead to the release of flammable vapours. Should a fire occur, a flame can flash back into the gas line and potentially cause a serious incident.
A robust and foolproof system is needed to ensure flashback does not occur from the flare to the truck rack. The flare needs to burn clean and smoke free – known as a smokeless flare. Oil terminals also use flame or flashback arrestors – safety devices designed to stop a flame in its tracks.
Another method of preventing flashback is to monitor the gas flow reaching flare stacks during loading at oil terminals. Operators must be able to rely on accurate monitoring and measuring processes for the loading of oil onto trucks. One of the most accurate ways to measure flare gas is with ultrasonic technology. Fluenta’s FGM 160 Flare Gas Meter uses ultrasonic technology to provide measurement of gas flow to flares, helping oil and gas companies ensure the smooth operation of loading stations across the globe.
For more information on Fluenta’s FGM 160 Flare Gas Meter, click here.