Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs)

Last update: Jan 13, 2017

Aboveground Storage Tanks (AST) are large containers usually made of metal and resting on top of the ground, designed to temporarily hold a number of different liquid or gas substances. These substances can range from water to crude oil to various chemical products.

One of the many standards which applies to aboveground storage tanks is API 653, "Tank Inspection, Repair, Alteration, and Reconstruction." It was developed and published by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and it provides guidelines for the inspection, repair, alteration, and reconstruction of steel aboveground storage tanks used in the petroleum and chemical industries. Before 2000, this was actually the only standard that applied to aboveground storage tanks.

There have also been several standards released by the Steel Tank Institute/Steel Plate Fabricators Association (STI/SPFA), a trade organization which represents fabricators of steel construction products, such as steel storage tanks, field erected water tanks, pressure vessels, pipes, and pipelines, and their suppliers. STI SP001 was released in 2000 and covers inspection requirements for welded metal, shop-fabricated, and small field-erected tanks among other things.

In the United States ASTs are also regulated by the federal government under 40 CFR 112, which provides certain minimum requirements for how storage tanks are designed, managed, and monitored. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) places extra requirements on any facilities, not related to transport, that happen to have a total aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons. On top of general regulations, these facilities must also comply with special Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations. This is because should they leak or rupture, ASTs can cause catastrophic damage to the environment, polluting lakes and rivers, and endangering human lives.


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Maintenance Strategies for Aboveground Storage Tanks in Crude Oil Service - Part II
January/February 2016 Inspectioneering Journal
By Melissa Ramkissoon at Petrotrin

In Part 1 of this 2-part series, published in the July/August 2015 issue of Inspectioneering Journal, I discussed corrosion control methods and some effective techniques for inspecting ASTs, and also identified several root causes of AST failures in crude oil service. In this second installment, I will briefly review the costs associated with AST failures and discuss maintenance strategies to help prevent and/or mitigate predictable and unforeseen incidents.

Fitness for service: a powerful tool to keep your plant running safely
Partner Content

FFS assessment techniques are applicable to a wide range of damage types: LTA's, cracks, creep damage, dents, and more. These are very powerful analytical tools that often allow operators to not only keep the plant running, but to keep it running safely.

A Guide to Storage Tank Inspection
July/August 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
By Robert Frater at Engineering & Inspection Services, LLC

Refinery, petrochemical, and storage tank operators are responsible for properly cleaning facility tanks on a periodic maintenance basis, typically in 20 to 30 year increments. This article provides a suggested “checklist” of inspection activities to ensure safe and reliable operations after cleaning.

Maintenance Strategies for Aboveground Storage Tanks in Crude Oil Service - Part 1
July/August 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
By Melissa Ramkissoon at Petrotrin

Aboveground Storage Tanks (AST) are essential to any successful oil and gas operation and must be properly managed to ensure operations function in a safe and reliable manner. In this 2-part series, I will identify some common failures related to ASTs in crude oil service and recommend strategies to prevent and/or mitigate such failures.

April 14, 2014

We've always made it a priority to seek out technical, state-of-the-art articles related to integrity management of storage tanks (for example, see this blog post on four of our most popular storage tank inspection articles). It's important to build a strong understanding of storage tank inspection through technical publications and training, but one should also...

Four of our most popular articles related to storage tank inspection
March 31, 2014

Occasionally, we like to provide recaps of articles written by our authors on a specific subject related to asset integrity management. This week, we're highlighting four of our most popular articles written about storage tank inspection.

Global, simultaneous inspection with Acoustic Emission Testing
Partner Content

AET is a powerful, non-intrusive inspection technique to verify the structural integrity of pressure vessels, spheres, high-temperature reactors and piping, coke drums, above-ground storage tanks, cryogenic storage tanks, and more.

Non-Intrusive Inspection of Above Ground Storage Tanks and Its Use in a Tank RBI Program
September/October 2013 Inspectioneering Journal
By Sam Ternowchek at Mistras Group

Maintaining the mechanical integrity of above ground storage tanks (AST’s) is the focal point of tank inspection programs. Performing internal inspections is an integral part of a tank integrity program, however, deciding when to take a tank out of service to perform an internal inspection is not an easy determination to make.

Tank Inspections per STI SP001 5th Edition
July/August 2013 Inspectioneering Journal
By Dana Schmidt at STI/SPFA

Tank inspectors and owners, did you know? Each year about 14,000 oil spills are reported, according to the EPA website. It is estimated that there are 618,000 facilities that are regulated under EPA SPCC in the United States.

In-Service AST Inspection and Cleaning Robotics
November/December 2012 Inspectioneering Journal
By Gary Penney at ADMA

A unique technique for inspecting and cleaning the floors of an Above Ground Storage Tank (AST) emerged in the late 90’s based on In-Service Robotic Technology. The technology has come a long way since then, with new inspection and tank cleaning capabilities, greater operational efficiency, and a much broader user base.

API TES - Tank Entry Supervisor Certification (TES)
September/October 2003 Inspectioneering Journal

API is currently developing a new Certification Program - Tank Entry Supervisor Certification (TES).

January/February 2001 Inspectioneering Journal

The objective of this joint industry project is to develop and commercialize a non-intrusive system for mapping the thickness of aboveground storage tank (AST) bottoms using Lamb wave tomography.