Inspectioneering Journal

An Inspired Approach to Storage Tank Inspection Practices

Utilizing Regulatory Compliance as a Means for Enhancing Overall Efficiency, Awareness, More Responsible Operations, Safety, and Profitability

By Elizabeth Brueckner, Principal at G.K. Hills Consulting Ltd. This article appears in the July/August 2019 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

Client Pain Point Quote: “…the toughest challenge is to convince people that it is absolutely critical for the oil and gas industry to integrate change. It has to move out of a reactive mode into a proactive one, or it will not survive over the long term.”


Managing aboveground storage tanks fabricated to API 650 and 12 Series specifications, or atmospheric tanks of other dimensions or specifications, within a large organization can be a complex undertaking. An unfortunate reality is that many upstream oil and gas producers are largely unable to manage the integrity of their small diameter tanks in a timely, cost effective, and responsible manner. Many don’t have a thorough and working understanding of best practices and regulatory requirements with regard to these tanks. The most common reasons for inadequate planning and execution of tank inspections include the following: incomplete and inaccurate tank data, poor communications and information sharing across the organization, little or no meaningful analytics applied and or utilized, and the inability to understand and interpret data and ultimately develop an effective action plan for addressing these tanks.

When referring to aboveground storage tank compliance in the upstream petroleum industry, it must address a complex framework of:

  • Regulatory Compliance: This requires not only knowing, understanding, and having a working knowledge of them, but also understanding the implications of implementing and maintaining them over the tank’s operating life.
  • Standards: Determining how standards address and apply to their particular operations. They must address not only the standards, but apply their intent to the full scope of the operation. They must be site specific.
  • Corporate: The corporate tank integrity plan must be in alignment with the current corporate policy (i.e., minimize impacts to the environment)

The framework must then be effectively layered and aligned, promoting the ability to demonstrate that the organization has enacted all reasonable measures to meet or exceed compliance requirements and their application(s) to routine site-specific operations.

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