Thursday, August 23, 2012

What about the fuel that wasn't recalled?

Earlier this week, a major US oil company announced that it had recalled approximately 50,000 barrels, or 2.1 million gallons of both regular and premium grade gasoline due to contamination. CSP reported that the contaminated gas has caused engine problems for around 7,000 drivers, and that more are expected.

This recent issue shines a spotlight on the importance of fuel quality. The instances of widespread fuel contamination from the refinery are rare, but there is a complex distribution system which moves the refined product to the retail underground storage tanks. Depending on where a site is located the fuel can touch any number of pipelines, barges, terminals, and trucks on the way to its final destination, leaving the opportunity for cross-product contamination, water intrusion, or other fuel quality issues.  The point - is that the majority of fuel issues don't arise at the refinery level, and we shouldn't be focusing on the refineries alone.

The retail facility itself is where arguably the most opportunity for error lies. All it takes is the transport driver to leave a fill cap off or unsecured, drain an overfill spill bucket containing water, or an uneducated associate to reverse the color coded fill lids, causing a product drop into the wrong tank. Any of these scenarios could lead to a potential catastrophe.

We're not suggesting that there's widespread contamination at any point in the fuel distribution process.  However, this recent example illustrates all of the places where the quality of their fuel is out of the retail operator's control. There will always be isolated incidents. Where you can take control and minimize your risk to fuel contamination is through a regular fuel and tank cleaning regimen, complete with a good biocide product to mitigate any bacterial growth in diesel fuels.

It's a best practice that will help ensure that you are keeping the cleanest product in your tanks at all times. It will ultimately prevent engine breakdown claims and unhappy customers, and will help protect your most valuable assets.