Oil Storage Regulations – A Guide

Nick Saunders

Nick Saunders

Operations Manager at J.W Hinchliffe Tanks

Stacked IBC's

Oil Storage Regulations

Oil storage regulations at first glance can be a bit of a minefield. Luckily for you, this article hopes to breakdown and simplify the regulations. So, do these rules apply to you? If you read on and the answer is yes and you don’t comply, you could be looking at a hefty fine or even be prosecuted. The Environment Agency can also serve an anti-pollution works notice to make you bring your oil store up to legal standards.

The Purpose of Regulations

The purpose of these regulations is first and foremost, helping to protect you and the enviroment. Sadly, oil continues to be one of the most common reports of pollution. It contributes to over a quarter of pollution incidents every year. Damage to wildlife and vegetation as well as drinking water supplies mean that prevention of pollutants is far more effective than treating pollution incidents after the event. Fuels are a dangerous and highly flammable substance and can pose a significant risk to you if you store it in the workplace or a residential setting.

Oil Types

You must follow the rules in this guide if you store any of the following types of oil:
  • Red diesel
  • Diesel
  • Petrol
  • Biofuels
  • Kerosene
  • Vegetable oils
  • Lubricants or hydraulic oils
  • Synthetic oils e.g. waste oil and motor oil
  • Liquid bitumen-based products e.g. damp proofing or road surface products
  • Cutting fluids, for example lubricants designed specifically for metalworking processes, that are made from or contain oil as oil-water emulsions
  • Insulating oils, used as electrical insulator and coolant
You do not need to follow the rules if you store any of the following substances, which are not classed as oil or are impractical to provide secondary containment for:
  • Liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
  • Hydrocarbon products that are solid unless they are heated, such as bitumen
  • Solvents that are not oil based, such as Trichloroethylene
  • Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Oil Storage Containers

A fuel tank when installed MUST comply with Building Regulations 2010. Suitable oil storage containers include:
  • Fixed tanks – Fixed tanks that meet the design standard are any made to British Standard 5410 or that are OFTEC standard OST T100, if your container is plastic. OFTEC standard OFS T200 or British Standard 799-5, if your container is metal. OFTEC is a trade association for the oil heating and cooking industry. Click here for more information about OFTEC.
  • Intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) & Drums – If you get a drum or IBC marked with the letters ‘UN’ for United Nations it will meet the design standard.
  • Mobile bowsers
  • Some generators and transformer
A secondary containment known as a bund must be installed around fixed tanks and must hold 110% of the capacity of the container. This ensures that if the main tank spills oil it is caught. Fixed tanks MUST be bunded – you cannot use a drip tray for them.

Design standards for bunds

Bunds can either be:
  • Manufactured as part of the tank system – Known as an integrally bunded tank.
  • Constructed from concrete or brick work – Will likely need rendering or coating on the internal surfaces of the base and walls to make them impermeable.
For bunds of either variety you must make sure:
  • The bund does not allow water or oil to pass through.
  • The base or walls of the bund do not have a pipe, valve or opening that allows the bund to be drained.
  • Any fill pipe or draw-off pipe that passes through the bund base or wall is sealed to stop oil getting out of the bund.
  • The bund contains every part of the container and its associated equipment (such as valves) unless the oil being stored has a flash point of less than 32℃ (such as ethanol), in which case filters, sight gauges, valves and other equipment can sit outside the bund.

Location of Your Oil Storage Container for Business

It’s important to place your oil storage container in the correct location:
  • Away from any high traffic areas – For example, driveways, forklift routes. Use bollards to help prevent any vehicles from hitting the tank.
  • At least 10 meters away from inland or coastal waters.
  • At least 50 meters clear of a spring.
  • Away from an ignition source.
  • Away from flood plains.
  • On floor level or below ground.
  • On an impermeable surface if near to drop-off points.Location of Your Oil Storage Container for Business

Location of Your Oil Storage Container for Residential

If you store your oil container a home you must follow these regulations.
  • The tank must be on a platform with approximately 0.3 metres around the edge.
  • At least 1.8 metres away from fuel terminals
  • At least 1.8 metres from windows and doors in a fire rated building or structure.
  • At least 1.8 metres from a non-fire rated building/structure.
  • At least 0.76 metres away from a non-fire rated boundary.

Fixed Tank – Additional Requirements

Its important to note, a drip tray is not adequate for a fixed tank. It must be bunded.

Sight Gauges

Fuel tanks are required to have a fuel gauge in order to let you and delivery drivers know when refuelling the tank you aren’t going to over fill it and can help prevent spillages. A sight gauge must be fitted with a valve that closes automatically when not in use. Furthermore, it must be properly supported using brackets along the length of the sight gauge tube that fix the tube to the tank, this means there is no danger of it coming loose.


All pipes, including fill, draw off and overflow should be positioned in such a way to minimise any damage. An example of this would be would be being hit by a delivery tanker. Additionally, placing bollards or barriers around it could prevent impact damage. Any pipework above the ground must be properly supported, for example by a bracket connected to the nearest wall.


A pump should be placed at a location where the risk to impact damage is at a minimum. Similar to piping, a pump should be protected from such threats as impact damage from vehicles and from vandalism. Therefore, barriers and bollards should be fitted to prevent this. If there is damage to the feed line then a valve should be present to prevent the tank contents from emptying.

Vent Pipe, Taps and Valves

You must ensure the valves, filters and taps are accessible for routine maintenance. They should be locked shut when not in use and be within the bund system. They should be positioned so that oil goes directly into the bund. This will then limit any harm to surrounding areas and decrease the likelihood of pollutants.

Screw fittings or fixed couplings

These must be maintained and no corrosion should be present. You must make sure no dirt or debris are found inside.

We can Help…

As a company, J W Hinchliffe (Tanks) Ltd have specialised in fuel and oil tank decommissioning for nearly 50 years. Using our own in-house team, we can offer a bespoke service to meet the needs of any client, from transport operators, to the construction and public sectors. If you would like to know more about the services we offer, please see our services page.  If you would like to contact us directly, you can email [email protected] or call directly on 01132635163 where you can speak immediately to an experienced tank decommissioning engineer. All of our work is carried out in line with current best practice and legislation. You can read more industry news through organisations such as the APEA (Association for Petroleum & Explosives Administration) by clicking here. You can follow us across our many social media channels here – LinkedinInstagram and Facebook 

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