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Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs)

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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 that apply 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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Articles about Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs)
September/October 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

The positive impact of digital twins on planning, costs, turnaround, revenue generation, and safety are substantial and rapid in their return. This article will examine why to leverage this technology and how to do so in a fiscally viable manner.

Authors: Floyd Baker
July/August 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

This article examines the quantitative tank RBI method found in API 581 and discusses uses for tank RBI other than deferral of scheduled internal inspections.

Authors: Joel Andreani
July/August 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

Practical steps to mitigate corrosion under insulation (CUI) damage on fixed pressure equipment and commentary on common mitigation techniques and good engineering practices for external insulation or fireproofing system design and application.

May/June 2021 Inspectioneering Journal

Asset owners can realize economic and HSE benefits from utilizing internal in-service robots for hazardous fluid tank inspection. Achieving high levels of coverage and collecting enormous amounts of quantitative data are possible for clean tanks.

March/April 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

This article reviews the effectiveness of AET for inspecting tank bottoms in two ways; namely, benchmarking regulations in different countries and comparing AET and MFLT results through a case study.

Partner Content

Our proprietary furnace tube inspection system, FTIS is an ultrasonic inspection technology capable of rapid, automated fired heater coil inspection in refinery fired heaters. The data captured by our furnace tube inspection system is...

March/April 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

There are tools available that can achieve nearly 100% corrosion monitoring coverage. The use of robotics and ultrasonic inspection methods such as rapid ultrasonic gridding have shown to be highly effective in acquiring these data points.

Authors: Ed Bryner
September/October 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

The refining and petrochemical industries will continue to benefit from the evolution of robotics and data management. The biggest hurdle will be to accept this evolution and embrace the new capabilities that come with it.

Authors: Ed Bryner
July/August 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

Tank inspection to achieve regulatory compliance has often been viewed as just another expense. This article takes the opposite view by utilizing regulatory compliance as a means for enhancing overall efficiency, awareness, safety, and profitability.

July/August 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

This article is written to provide a brief case study of an acoustic emission test of an FRP storage tank. A method combining acoustic emission with ultrasonics is proposed to ensure reliable long term operation.

Authors: Geoff Clarkson
July/August 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

Tanks are ubiquitous and essential in industrial societies. When they fail, the consequences can be dire if products/volumes they store are explosive and/or toxic.

Authors: Ana Benz
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...

January/February 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

The use of drones for confined space inspection is proving to reduce safety risks and create efficiencies in both time and cost. These benefits have been realized particularly in the oil, gas and petrochemical industry in internal tank inspection.

Authors: Philip Buchan
May/June 2018 Inspectioneering Journal

With no industry consensus documents in existence that provide guidance for determining FFS of FRP, this article provides a case study that illustrates how an existing European design standard on GRP tanks can be used to calculate expected changes...

Authors: Geoff Clarkson
July/August 2017 Inspectioneering Journal

This article outlines the engineering and assessment methodologies applied during the analysis of a failure of a 15-foot diameter reactor tank supported by four legs.


The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued two reports on the safe management of hazards by small businesses and storage facilities that use highly hazardous chemicals in business processes.

January/February 2016 Inspectioneering Journal

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...

Partner Content

TEAM believes that quality inspections are the key to reliability. Our inspection crews are made up of specialty trained, experienced technicians who adhere to the highest quality standards. Our API 653 inspectors deliver thorough, reliable...

July/August 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

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...

Authors: Robert Frater
July/August 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

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...


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.

Authors: Nick Schmoyer
September/October 2013 Inspectioneering Journal

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...

Authors: Sam Ternowchek
July/August 2013 Inspectioneering Journal

Each year about 14,000 oil spills are reported, according to the EPA. It is estimated that there are 618,000 facilities that are regulated under EPA SPCC in the United States.

Authors: Dana Schmidt
Partner Content

Antea delivers highly flexible risk-based asset integrity software with 3D Digital Twin integration to optimize maintenance, reduce risk, and improve mechanical integrity for oil and gas, power generation, and chemical plants and facilities. Whether...

November/December 2012 Inspectioneering Journal

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...

Authors: Gary Penney
January/February 2006 Inspectioneering Journal

Among other things, a welding QA/QC program needs to ensure that only qualified welders, utilizing qualified procedures are allowed to weld on any pressurized equipment, including storage tanks and piping.

Authors: John Reynolds
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.

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