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terminal (also called a tank farm) is an industrial facility used to store oil, gas, and/or petrochemical products. Terminals are made up of underground storage tanks, aboveground storage tanks, or both, and pipelines, which are used to receive product, as well as transport product to the end user or further storage facilities. There are currently over 6,000 terminals in the world, with over 2,000 located in North America.

Oil terminals are strategically located, typically near oil-producing regions and refineries, or connected to them via pipelines. They are primarily used for the reception, storage, and distribution of crude oil and petroleum products. The oil is typically stored in fixed-roof or floating-roof tanks. Fixed-roof tanks are generally used for lower volatility products, while floating-roof tanks, which minimize vapor losses, are used for storing higher volatility products. Distribution from these terminals is done primarily through pipelines, trucks, trains, or tanker ships.

Gas terminals are dedicated to the storage and distribution of natural gas and its derivatives. Natural gas processing involves the separation of methane, the primary component of natural gas, from other hydrocarbons and fluids to produce 'pipeline quality' dry natural gas. This gas can be transported via pipelines or, for overseas transport, may be converted into liquefied natural gas (LNG) at a liquefaction plant. LNG is stored in specialized cryogenic tanks that maintain the gas at low temperatures. These facilities may also include re-gasification plants that convert the LNG back to its gaseous state for distribution to consumers.

Terminals are pivotal in managing and balancing supply and demand while providing a buffer to absorb shocks in the oil and gas market. Their operational efficiency and safety are of great importance, as disruptions can have substantial impacts on energy security and prices.





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Articles about Terminals
September/October 2023 Inspectioneering Journal

A follow-up for storage tank owners now that SB 900 is in effect, including additional information and identifying implications of recent updates.

Authors: Earl Crochet
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.

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...

March/April 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

New inline inspections and integrity management systems allow operators to understand the complexities and economics of terminals’ and station’s complex aging pipeline infrastructure.

Partner Content

Are you truly prepared for your next Turnaround? Effective work processes are required to successfully plan, manage, review and supervise plant turnarounds. Inspection planning and work scope selection are critical aspects of any turnaround...

July/August 2010 Inspectioneering Journal

In a report issued May 27, 2009 for an investigation into the November 2008 fertilizer tank collapse at Allied Terminals in Chesapeake, VA, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) recommended that the Commonwealth of Virginia regulate or authorize...

November/December 2002 Inspectioneering Journal

The purpose of the new SPCC rule is two-fold; i.e. to prevent oil spills from occurring and to respond to them if they do occur. We believe that few will argue that prevention is far better and less costly than response in general. The focus of this...

Authors: Philip Myers
    Videos related to Terminals

      U.S. Chemical Safety Board safety video discussing the massive 2009 explosion at the Caribbean Petroleum, or CAPECO, terminal facility near San Juan, Puerto Rico. The incident occurred when gasoline overflowed and sprayed out from a large...

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