15 Common Issues with Petroleum Storage Tanks and How to Fix Them

Petroleum Storage Tanks

Petroleum storage tanks are essential for the safe storage and transportation of fuel, but they are susceptible to various issues that can affect their integrity and functionality. It is crucial that the most common issues are well understood and operators know how to address them.

Common petroleum storage tank issues:


Petroleum is corrosive and continuous exposure can weaken the tank’s structure. Regular inspections must be conducted, and damage should be rectified promptly.


A leaking petroleum storage tank is a serious environmental hazard and safety risk, so check for cracks or weakness regularly and address defects swiftly.


Overfilling storage tanks can lead to spills and environmental contamination. Implement appropriate safeguards, such as operator training and robust procedures to guard against this risk.


Petroleum storage tanks are typically situated on cement slabs, and any subsidence can distort the tank and lead to structural issues. The tank and the base upon which it is situated must be inspected regularly.

Tank bottom failures

Tank bottoms are susceptible to wear from environmental conditions, so they should be checked routinely for signs of deterioration.

Welding failures

Welds can crack, particularly when they are under extreme pressure or subjected to major environmental changes. Certified welders should conduct any welding that is necessary, and welds must be routinely inspected to ensure their integrity.

Tank roof problems

Tank roofs must be regularly inspected and cleared of debris to guard against corrosion or collapse and to ensure the adequate ventilation of the tank’s contents.

Emission of harmful vapours

Uncontrolled vapour emissions are harmful to human health and pose an air pollution risk. Installing appropriate vapour recovery and venting systems can minimize this risk.

Overpressure tanks

When storage tanks are over-pressured, they can rupture. Installing pressure relief valves and monitoring pressure levels is essential to guard against this problem.

Cathodic protection failure

When cathodic protection systems fail, they allow corrosion to develop unchecked. Therefore, regular testing of the efficacy of the protection system is important to pre-empt failures.

Inadequate tank cleaning procedures

When inadequately cleaned, sediment and sludge builds up inside storage tanks, reducing the quality of the petroleum and creating operational issues. Tanks should be regularly cleaned, and residues must be disposed of safely.

Accumulation of condensation

Condensation can occur inside a storage tank, and its presence can degrade the petroleum and accelerate tank corrosion. Draining accumulated water frequently is important.

Incompatible materials

Some materials are incompatible, and contact between them can accelerate the effects of corrosion or create harmful chemical reactions. Select materials with care and inspect them regularly for signs of incompatibility.

Poor safety processes

Storage tanks pose significant safety risks to operators and the environment, so processes and protocols must be adequate and rigorously followed. Always prioritize safety.

Regulatory compliance

Failure to comply with industry standards and safety regulations can have legal and financial repercussions, so seek expert advice, train personnel carefully, and conduct regular compliance audits.

By understanding these common issues and how to address those, businesses can ensure they store and transport petroleum with safety.