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Fuel Storage Problems for Fleets

The value of stored fuel for fleets lays in the value of them getting business done.

Fuel storage can be inevitable for fleet.  And fleer decision makers have to view this fuel storage within the context of what’s going to keep their operational costs lowest.  A fleet or a transportation company isn’t going to stored fuel for a year just for the sake of it.

Balancing expenses with savings

Most fleets can’t get away completely from storing fuel.  Nor do they want to. The questions they have to reconcile is how long to store fuel, how much of it to store, and how to make sure it’s going to do what they need it to do, when they need it.

How long to store it

Just like fueling stations aren’t going to store gasoline for 6 months, fleets don’t want to keep stored fuel around any longer than is needed.  They don’t keep fuel around any longer than is needed.

When making these decisions, they have to balance up-front fuel expense considerations – the PM expenses of any potential fuel additization, labor cost for fuel quality management, tank maintenance, regulation compliance - with the value of back-end savings – reductions in maintenance costs, the value of having fixed fuel costs.  It’s a tight rope that fleet managers have to walk consistently.

Tank Maintenance and the Costs of Compliance

Both above-ground (AST) and underground (UST) tanks have rules and regulations that are monitored by the EPA because of the perceived environmental threats posed by keeping stored petroleum around for long periods of time. So there are inherent costs to get abreast of these regulations.

Keeping Fuel Around Vs.  The Value of Fixed Costs

When fuel prices are high or volatile, there can be value in achieving cost stability for fleets by keeping a certain amount of stored fuel around.

Upfront Costs for Addization

Diesel fuels used to be able to be stored for 6-12 months or more. That’s longer than most fleets really need. But with ULSD – its inherent instability and increased sensitivity to microbes – now the norm, the effective diesel storage life is much shorter now. This creates the need for fleets to additize their stored diesel. Fuel biocides to keep microbes at bay and water control agents are most applicable for fleets that don’t store fuel for longer than 3-4 weeks.  

Fuel treatment is an extra upfront cost. Most fleets don’t like upfront costs unless there’s obvious value that they’re getting from it.  But it’s far less of an expense than the problems that are seen from not doing it.

Recommendations from the top

Major petroleum suppliers like Chevron are also getting in the act when it comes to recommending best practices for the fleet customers who use their fuels.

  1. Purchase clean dry fuel from a reputable supplier and keep the stored fuel cool and dry. The presence of free water encourages the corrosion of metal storage tanks and provides the medium for microbial growth.
  1. Add an appropriate stabilizer that contains on anti-oxidant, biocide and corrosion inhibitor.
  1. Use a fuel quality management service to regularly test the fuel and, as necessary, clean it through filters and add fresh stabilizers. 
  1. Install a dedicated fuel quality management system that automatically tests and purifies the fuel and injects fresh stabilizer.

Suggested Free Resources

The Art of Avoiding Budget Headaches
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Bellicide vs. the Marketplace
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Protecting Stored Fuel
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