Well-designed tanks are key for safe energy distribution, as discussed in the July 2015 issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering magazine.
The recent earthquake tragedy in Nepal brings into sharp focus the importance of engineering and building codes for buildings and facilities and their enforcement. Even with some of the most stringent regulations in the world, the outcome in such extreme situations can be catastrophic. However, this in no way reduces the importance of employing appropriate standards when engineering and designing buildings and industrial facilities.
Oil storage tanks are no exception. Storage tanks in refineries and chemical plants contain large volumes of flammable and hazardous chemicals. A small accident may lead to multi-million dollar property losses, days of production lost production, and weeks and months of investigations. Larger accidents could also spark permanent shutdowns, ongoing lawsuits, stock devaluations, or company bankruptcies. But whatever the size of the incident, the most deeply felt and impactful are those that cause injury or loss of life.
That is why when it comes to the construction of steel aboveground storage tanks, designers and engineers must follow a number of stringent guidelines and regulations that have evolved over the years. These standards have been updated a number of times. Most companies follow those standards and guidelines, but tank accidents and failures still occur. Things could be better.
There is no way to totally prevent tank failure, but there are prudent steps that can help reduce the risk. Software like Intergraph TANK helps owner operators follow industry standards and make their aboveground storage tanks safer over the facility lifetime. Intergraph TANK enables engineers to accurately design new storage tanks and check fitness of service for existing tanks.