Mersey Travel

Upgrading the Mersey Tunnels’ Emergency Fuel Storage

Merseytravel owns and operates the two road tunnels beneath the River Mersey which provide the vital arterial connections between Wirral and North Wales, and the city of Liverpool and its docks.

Queensway tunnel was opened by King George V, in 1935 and this runs between Liverpool and Birkenhead. Queen Elizabeth II, his granddaughter, opened the second tunnel in 1971. Appropriately named Kingsway, this is located within two miles to the west, linking Liverpool and Wallasey.

Both tunnels have a number of ventilation shafts which are fitted with huge electric fans to extract fumes and maintain a continual supply of fresh air within the tunnels. The equipment has been updated progressively to improve efficiency and optimise energy. Variable speed motors allow the air flow to be managed to match the weather conditions, traffic density and to reduce consumption during off peak times.

The four ventilating buildings on the bank of River Mersey have back-up diesel electric generators which take over automatically in the event of a mains power cut. As well as maintaining ventilation the generators will provide back-up power for other essential services, such as the drainage pumps, lighting and communication. All of which are necessary for the safe operation of the tunnel.

“To ensure their availability, these back up facilities are run for three hours, every six weeks,” explains Adeola Kehinde, senior officer, Facilities and Works Department.

“The way the project was managed, tied in with what had been agreed and everybody was surprised and delighted with how it went in so smoothly.”

Adeola Kehinde — Senior Officer, Facilities and Works Department.

“We run under full load operational conditions for three hour periods to shake out any potential faults. Whilst these procedures have served their purpose over the years, the generator fuel storage facilities required upgrading. The design was out of date and the replenishment procedures were no longer compatible with best practice and the current regulations for the protection of the environment.”

“Having carried out an in-depth review of the sustainability and resilience of these facilities we put together a detailed recommendation to replace all the tanks filling point cabinets, install three new tanks, upgrade controls and centralised contents monitoring.”

“Another area that needed to be upgraded was the fleet fuelling point located at the operations support centre at Wallasey. Merseytravel operates some fifty operation and utility vehicles and these facilities allow drivers to draw fuel whenever necessary, seven days a week.

“Having carried out an in-depth review of the sustainability and resilience of these facilities we put together a detailed recommendation to replace all the tanks filling point cabinets, install three new tanks, upgrade controls and centralised contents monitoring.

The outcome of a thorough tendering process was a successful bid by Oil Tank Supplies who were awarded the contract in January 2011. The work was completed within 12 weeks against a tight schedule.

Adeola Kehinde credits this success to the work put in to the approval process and planning, saying: “The way the project was managed, tied in with what had been agreed and everybody was surprised and delighted with how it went in so smoothly.”

Implementation

A new 20K litres bunded tank (double skin for total integrity) and associated replenishment controls were installed in six locations, covering each of the emergency power generators. The upgrade, in some cases replacing non conforming belly tanks, not only increased storage capacity, but it also simplified the replenishment process by removing the need for a top-up bowser. Each tank has been fitted with high and low alarms and electronic contents gauging to allow central monitoring.

The operations centre vehicle fleet fuelling forecourt was upgraded. This included relocation of the dispenser pump and the installation of a surface drainage interceptor to prevent oil spills and contaminated water from entering the storm drains. The pump was modified to allow remote monitoring of all the dispensing transactions, this together with new tank contents instrumentation enables the operations staff to reconcile fleet usage and stock levels.

Results

The aim of the upgrade was to bring the overall fuel storage system into line with compliance to the current legislation for the storage of fuel oil. From an operational point of view the equipment provides instant information about the status of the tank contents.

As well as providing stores administration timely and accurate information for re-ordering, this also enables the control room staff to see immediate status of all the tanks and if necessary, to make better informed decisions to share loads and maintain services in the event of an emergency.


Turriff Fuels upgrades with real time stock quality monitoring

Turriff Fuels upgrades with real time stock quality monitoring

Turif Fuels Quality Stock Monitoring Storage TankTurriff Fuels is a family owned business set up 25 years ago by Gordon and Mary Brown.

Based in Turriff, Aberdeenshire, the company serves an agricultural region with a large number of properties using oil fired central heating. The founder, Gordon Brown was already involved in the fuel oil distribution sector and he could see that there was also a growing demand to supply customers operating farm machinery and commercial transport .

As the business has developed, Turriff Fuels has built up a fleet of six distribution tankers and an articulated  tanker used for bulk deliveries and the transportation of wetstock from the terminal. Management is now in the hands of Gordon’s son and daughter, Ian and Shona.

“In order to take the business forward, we have decided to put in a significant investment to increase capacity and upgrade our storage facilities,” says Ian Brown.

“Our original storage tanks were coming to the end of their useful lives and we needed to take a fresh look at the bund provisions in order to comply with the latest regulations for the protection of the environment. After talking to our trade association, the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers, (FPS) we arranged to meet with Oil Tank Supplies (OTS) to discuss our requirements.

“This investment brings our facilities into line with best practice for the storage and distribution of fuel oils”

Ian Brown — Proprietor, Turriff Fuel Oils.

“A representative from OTS visited to survey the site and assist us in drawing up a specification, which amounted to a comprehensive redevelopment of our depot facility.”

The work comprised the installation of concrete forecourt area and associated drainage. Since we are handling fuel oil this includes oil separators, which are essential to prevent any contaminated water from entering the main drains.

Turiff Fuels Quality Stock Monitoring Storage Tank Fuelling

The existing tank farm was decommissioned to be replaced by two 150K litres capacity self bunded storage tanks; one dedicated to kerosene for domestic heating and the second was a dual compartment, holding 100k litres gas oil, for off-road and farm machinery and 50K litres for road diesel.

“It was a seamless operation all carried out at the same location without any disruption to our daily routines. We exhausted the usable stock, the contractor removed the residue for disposal and then took away the tanks. The new tanks were installed a couple days later. It was a very smooth change over and well planned with no problems.”

The installation is fully instrumented to allow continuous monitoring of stocks, and this data is transmitted electronically via a web based stock management system.  In effect this replaces the need for the former dip stick measurements and manual records which are time consuming and can be vulnerable to errors.

To ensure we maintain prime storage conditions both tanks have been painted internally, as well as the external finish. Instrumentation is also fitted to detect the presence of water contamination which if left untreated can lead to the deterioration of fuel quality.

“We are operating in a competitive market, so it is important to distinguish ourselves from other suppliers,” says Ian. On the face of it we are all offering the same product. While our customers are definitely price sensitive, they are all becoming much more aware of the importance of fuel quality as well.

“And the story doesn’t end with the installation of shiny new tanks. We have signed up to the FPS Fuel Quality Accreditation Scheme. This means that we shall be embarking on a formal programme of fuel testing and certification to guarantee quality.

Ian concludes by stating: “This investment has enabled Turriff Fuels to set new standards for customer service. We have taken steps to underwrite our duty of care as a fuel supplier and we trust that this will give our customers peace of mind.


Team Flitwick Fuels opens upgraded bunker facilities in Essex

Team Flitwick Fuels Opens Upgraded Bunker Facilities in Essex

One of the UK’s largest oil distributors and fuel card providers, Team Flitwick, has completed the first steps of a major investment programme at the company’s Thurrock depot. To meet an increase in customer demand, its on-site commercial Bunker facility has been completely revamped and has doubled in capacity, providing eight multi-product fuelling points.

As part of the refurbishment, two 125,000 litres OTS MultiServ storage tanks have been installed to refuel up to eight vehicles at a time. The patented tanks feature an innovative fuel quality control.

State-of-the-art surveillance and electronic monitoring facilities have also been installed to check stock levels, transactions and ensure a safe and secure fuel facility for drivers using the pumps.

The flagship Bunker facility has been designed with all users in mind, from national fleet operators to self employed drivers. Fuel can be obtained using the Team Flitwick Bunker card, which provides detailed vehicle fuel usage reports and competitive wholesale prices, to help operators manage their costs with the addition of nationwide coverage. The facilities are also available to users who hold other mainstream cards.

“We strive to deliver high quality fuel and so we have put stringent controls in place to monitor every stock delivery and ensure we maintain the extremely high standards that our customers have come to expect.”

Mike Collohan — Head of Fuel Cards, Team Flitwick.

Mike Collohan Fuel Cards

The refurbishment was overseen by main contractor, Oil Tank Supplies (OTS), based in Gloucestershire, which completed the work in less than three months. The tanks were installed in two stages, enabling the existing fuelling facilities to remain open to guarantee minimal disruption to customers.

Mike Colohan, Head of fuel cards, said: “The Thurrock depot has been operating for over 25 years and as demand has increased, we wanted to provide a larger fuelling facility that was safe and secure to meet all of our customers’ needs.

“We strive to deliver high quality fuel and so we have put stringent controls in place to monitor every stock delivery and ensure we maintain the extremely high standards that our customers have come to expect.”

Since the completion of the new fuelling point, the depot has achieved a 40 per cent increase in business.


Oil Tank Supplies Delivers Oil 4 Wales Depot Storage Facilities

Oil Tank Supplies Delivers Oil 4 Wales Depot Storage Facilities

Key strategic investment by Oil 4 Wales completed on-time and within budget.

Colin Owen Oil 4 Wales

Oil 4 Wales is a newly formed independent oil distribution company serving domestic accounts, retail forecourts, agricultural and business fleet operators across the south and western counties of Wales. The company has set itself ambitious targets for a turnover of around £60m in its first year of trading.

“And the plan is coming together, says founder Colin Owens. The company is building up a chain of branded retail forecourts and has signed its first distribution deal for eight petrol stations across South Wales. And we have completed our first major strategic investment with the setting up of a £350K regional distribution depot alongside the Nant y caws filling station on the A48, near to Carmarthen.”

Based on three bulk storage tanks for diesel, gas oil and kerosene, the Oil 4 Wales depot facilities were installed by Oil Tank Supplies of Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire. The work was completed under a turnkey contract covering planning, civil works, surface drainage, security and loading facilities.

Oil 4 Wales has over 7,000 customers ranging from home deliveries domestic heating oil and commercial fleet operations. These are serviced by a fleet of ten short wheelbase tankers and a larger capacity articulated unit for bulk deliveries from refinery to commercial customers and the distribution depot.

“Having decided to build the depot we approached a number of business contacts in the oil industry and Oil Tank Supplies was recommended. They had excellent credentials for maintenance work and we were very impressed with their understanding of our requirement.”

Colin Owen — Founder, Oil 4 Wales.

“The depot at Nant y caws was a logical step as the distribution area has expanded from the refinery at Milford Haven,” explains Colin Owens. We have reduced operating costs by rationalising vehicle movements from the refinery and the depot has improved the efficiency of our logistics.”

“This then allows us to support our growing customer base throughout South Wales and as a hub we are well placed to continue our growth throughout the west of Wales and up to Llandeilo, Lampeter and Aberystwyth.”

“Having decided to build the depot we approached a number of business contacts in the oil industry and Oil Tank Supplies was recommended. They had excellent credentials for maintenance work and we were very impressed with their understanding of our requirement.

“The deciding factor was a competitive price and now that the project has been completed, it is operational and compliant with the industry regulations so we are very happy to endorse OTS for their expertise and customer service.

“Like most projects of this complexity there were some minor technical issues but to be fair to OTS it is their response to these situations that distinguishes a company for its post sales service and we found the care and responsibility was excellent.

“Indeed we were so pleased with their performance on this project that we have commissioned OTS to supply and install another storage tank for a new development truck stop that is being built for Oil 4 Wales in Cardiff. This truck stop will mark the launch of the company’s fuel oil card account and bunkering services.


London Borough of Hounslow upgrades its depot fuelling to keep in step with operational demands

London Borough of Hounslow upgrades its depot fuelling to keep in step with operational demands

Hounslow CouncilUnderground diesel storage tanks at the London Borough of Hounslow’s main transport depot facilities have been decommissioned. The work included the installation of a new 60K litres capacity replacement tank. This was supplied by MIS Fuel Monitoring in conjunction with Oil Tank Supplies as a fully operational unit, incorporating single compartment bunded tank, two diesel dispensers and the associated low level/fill alarms and electronics monitoring instrumentation, housed within the services cabinet.

Outlining the project, Hounslow’s head of vehicle fleet management, Rod Willis said, “This upgrade was needed to bring our diesel storage facilities into line with current regulations for the protection of the environment. The new tank provides additional capacity to meet on-going and future operational requirements.”

“The old tanks have been emptied and filled with foam. The area – close to the main gate was then resurfaced and a concrete base laid for the installation of the new tank. This was effectively a self-contained filling station - delivered off the back of a truck and commissioned within a matter of days.”

Fuel is a one of the major consumable costs for the council and it relates to the growth in services. The fleet comprises 230 vehicles, mostly general purpose utility pick-ups, small vans and a couple of cars and about 80 minibuses. Overall the fleet gets through around 30K litres of diesel a month, so this needs to be managed very carefully.

"Essentially this project has brought our fuel management facilities into the 21st century."

Rod Willis, Hounslow Council's Head of Fleet Management.

The new tank complements an existing 35K litres capacity tank located within the area set aside for parking contractors’ waste and recycling vehicles. Having two fuelling points allows greater flexibility and minimal vehicle movements on the site to ensure the safety of pedestrians.

“This additional storage gives us the extra reserves we need to ensure that customer services can be continued, should we have any disruption to supplies. It is easier to plan future needs and because we have fully compliant resale standard dispensers, we can enter into fuelling arrangements with our various PFI service partners.”

“It is reassuring then that this investment maintains this continuity. Indeed we have further enhanced the installation by integrating both fuelling points into our central computer network. This provides our administration staff with up to the minute status on current stock levels, thus allowing them to make better informed decisions when reordering.”

“Merridale fuel monitoring software has been used for stock control and fuel usage reporting, since it was introduced ten years ago. This effectively makes our user departments accountable for their fuel budgets, and it has now become part of our standard office procedures.”

“It is reassuring then that this investment maintains this continuity. Indeed we have further enhanced the installation by integrating both fuelling points into our central computer network. This provides our administration staff with up to the minute status on current stock levels, thus allowing them to make better informed decisions when reordering.”

“This overall visibility is also an important security measure. My staff and I will quickly pick up on any anomalies and take appropriate action to investigate this further – whether this is loss of stock at the tank or excessive consumption recorded by any of the fleet vehicles.”

Operational requirements are also changing as the council reviews its service delivery arrangements. A PFI service agreement is currently being set up to cover the Highways, Street Cleansing and Drainage. In most of these cases to service provider will continue to make use of the depot fuelling facilities.

“It is important therefore to use high specification dispensers which will meet the requirements of trading standards for resale and invoicing. Merridale pumps set the standard as far as we are concerned,” says Rod Willis.

Looking ahead we may consider installing a separate tank for gas oil for plant and machines but this is on hold pending the appointment of the new PFI service partner.

Essentially this project has brought our fuel management facilities into the 21st century. The only afterthought was the provision of hose reels. We are using long hoses to allow better flexibility but these can also get in the way. We have ordered reels to be fitted to help keep the fuelling point clear and they also make life easier for the yard staff when shutting up the cabinet.


Enterprise, Gloucester installs OTS MultiServ fuelling station

Enterprise, Gloucester installs OTS MultiServ fuelling station

The Enterprise Group is the UK’s largest dedicated provider of maintenance and front line services to the public sector and utility industries. Following its appointment as principle partner to the Gloucester City Council for waste and recycling services, the group has completed a major regeneration of the main depot facilities in Eastern Avenue.

The multi million pound investment included a new office block and yard improvements for the recycling and waste transfer operations. Best practice and sustainability were key drivers for the investment – a point exemplified by the new vehicle wash installation which uses rain water collected from the rooftops and yard surface drains.

Another example was the decommissioning of an obsolete underground diesel storage tank. This has been replaced by an above ground, bunded storage unit which is more environmentally acceptable and easier to maintain.

The new fuelling station is based on a MultiServ unit supplied by Oil Tank Supplies (OTS) of Moreton in the Marsh. MultiServ is a self contained facility incorporating pumps, fuel dispensing hoses and a control cabinet housing computer monitoring and the communications link for back office fuel management reports.

“Fuel management provides the platform we need for training and sustainability.”

Lee Thompson, Enterprise waste and recycling manager.

Users – drivers and staff access fuel by using a key fob dedicated to specific vehicles. Each fuelling transaction is authorised by entering the vehicle mileage on the control panel. This data including amount of fuel drawn, date and time, is captured and processed by a web based service to provide stock control and fuel consumption reports.

“This information is used in conjunction with vehicle tracking technology to tune our operating costs precisely,” explains Enterprise Waste and Recycling Manager, Lee Thompson.

“We have a 15 year Waste Partnership with Gloucester City Council. Although this has been priced very carefully, we have to take into account inevitable changes such as increases in demand as the population grows. Fuel accounts for a large proportion of our operational costs so it is vital that we have accurate monitoring and good quality data to manage this efficiently.”

“The system provides a daily report and if any vehicle has been speeding the registration will be highlighted in red and we can easily identify the driver involved.”

Multiserve Enterprise“As well as recording the fuel usage the new station is equipped with a low level alarm and the software provides ongoing reconciliation of the tank contents for stock control and re-ordering.
Previously this was a very time consuming clerical task relying on meters and manual records which were invariably prone to errors.

“The information was only available once a month and at best it provided an estimation of our fuel usage but it wasn’t foolproof. I didn’t rely on the information it provided – let’s put it that way,” says Lee Thompson.

“This was not satisfactory bearing in mind that we are now using over 40K litres of diesel a month. We have a fleet of around 100 vehicles, ranging from refuse wagons to staff vans and 4×4s. Fuel oil is only second to wages in terms of our operating costs and it is the most challenging on-cost to manage and forecast.

“With the new system, the current status is up to the minute and continuously updated, so we now have absolute visibility and therefore control over the most important cost element of our operations.”

Lee Thompson summarises by saying: “If I need to investigate any anomalies, the tank tells us how much fuel has been used and then I can look at the distance travelled with the tracker.

“This tells me what speed the vehicle was travelling and we can use this data to ascertain whether or not it was burning excess fuel. I can see what time the vehicle left the yard at the start of a shift and any occasions when it was stationary with the engine possibly idling, time which would then be made up by speeding on the round.

“The system provides a daily report and if any vehicle has been speeding the registration will be highlighted in red and we can easily identify the driver involved.

“Now that we have these measures in place, they provide the platform we need for training and sustainability.”


Debut for OTS BioTank at Langdons’ new depot facilities in Redditch

Debut for OTS BioTank at Langdons’ new depot facilities in Redditch

Vehicles fuelling at Langdons Industries new depot facilities at Redditch have an additional line of defence to ensure that the quality of the diesel stock remains in pristine condition — ‘as delivered from the refinery’. For this fuelling point is based on an OTS BioTank, a new type of storage tank with self-cleansing technology, which has been developed by Oil Tank Supplies of Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire.

Langdons Industries (now part of the international Nagel group), specialises in the distribution of chilled and frozen produce. The £10 million investment at Redditch will provide the hub services for north/south traffic. The operation forms an integral part of a national network incorporating twelve regional depots as well as a number of partners, to support Langdons’ 24 hour Chillnet service, which covers most of the UK and Ireland.

“Transportation is provided by a company fleet of 225 articulated units equipped with dual temperature trailers,” explains Consultant and Project Manager, Wilfred Dickinson.

“Now that we are aware of this potential risk, we could see that the BioTank system would be an ideal way to ensure that we eliminated [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][fuel contamination] completely. We have a longstanding working relationship with Oil Tank Supplies and the company has completed several tank installations for other Langdons depots.”

Wilfred Dickinson, Consultant and Project Manager for Langdons Industries.

“These vehicles are operating more or less around the clock, trunking between depots and delivering to key accounts – such as RDCs for a national cash and carry outlet and several supermarket chains. Reliability and fuel economy are crucial. We cannot tolerate any compromise to vehicle performance, caused by dirty fuel.”

The challenge

Depending on storage conditions, diesel fuel is prone to fungal growth – an infestation which, if left untreated, can lead to clogged filters and potential service issues which could then impact on fleet productivity.

This potential risk has been exacerbated by the increasing proportion of biodiesel entering the supply chain. Despite its ‘green’ credentials, biodiesel contains a higher amount of suspended water, a property which nourishes microbial growth during storage.

The solution

Biotank Installation Langdons IndustriesThe OTS BioTank is designed to inhibit any potential microbial infestation. The conditioning system comprises a control unit, pump and pipework to re-circulate the tank contents periodically through a series of filtration stages. These include dewatering and an Ultra Violet treatment to kill bacteria.

“Since Langdons are turning over their fuel supplies fairly quickly, diesel contamination is not expected to be a big issue,” says Wilfred Dickinson.

“However, prior to the installation at Redditch, Langdons did experience a couple of incidents where vehicles had drawn fuel from a tank which was at a low stock level.”

“Now that we are aware of this potential risk, we could see that the BioTank system would be an ideal way to ensure that we eliminated it completely. We have a longstanding working relationship with Oil Tank Supplies and the company has completed several tank installations for other Langdons depots.”

Wilfred Dickinson continues: “OTS has given us good service, their technical expertise is good and the quality of work is excellent. Another important factor as far as this installation was concerned, is that the OTS headquarters is reasonably close. If we have any technical snags they are dealt with very quickly and of course, we are happy to cooperate with development work if this will help us to improve Langdons’ operational facilities.”

“OTS has given us good service, their technical expertise is good and the quality of work is excellent.

The new BioTank is a multi product storage tank with capacity for 55K litres of white (road) diesel and 45K of red diesel for the trailer refrigeration packs. There is also provision for 5k litres of Adblue. At current fuel usage, the tank allows sufficient fuel to cover about 10 days normal operations. All of the main Langdons depots have their own fuelling points and typically, the tank at Redditch will be replenished on a weekly basis.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]


Oil Tank Supplies

Fuel pontoon helps to keep Wightlink Ferries on time

Ashley Jenkins Whitaker

The commissioning of a floating fuel storage platform by Wightlink Ferries has delivered two significant operational benefits. Firstly it has secured the provisioning of marine low-sulphur fuel oil, delivered by sea-going ‘bunker’ tankers. Secondly, it is helping to ensure the reliability of Wightlink’s daily services, by enabling its ferries to fuel on-demand and at off peak times, allowing more flexibility and maximum availability.

The investment project was initiated by the local fuel oil supplier, John H Whitaker Tankers, which is based in Eastern Docks, Southampton. Whitaker specialises in providing ship refuelling – or bunkering services, a maritime term derived from the days when ships were powered by coal.

Today Whitaker operates as a national distribution partner for the major oil companies such as ExxonMobil, provisioning marine grade fuels to ships visiting such ports as Southampton and Portsmouth.

“Oil Tank Supplies (OTS) of Moreton-in-Marsh was the obvious choice for this commission.”

Ashley Jenkins, John H Whitaker Tankers.

The challenge

“By their nature the Wightlink ferries are busy little ships, operating more or less continuously throughout each day,” explains Whitaker’s general manager, Ashley Jenkins. “They therefore tend to require frequent re-fuelling compared to larger vessels such as cruise liners which will take much larger fill ups at longer intervals.”

“There was a mismatch of availability because the ferries would be taking up to ten deliveries a week across all the fleet. This was further complicated by the need often to fuel very late at night to fit in with the ferries’ operating schedules…”

“As a logistics operation Whitakers has to forecast and plan capital expenditure over the long term in order to match its resources to changing operational requirements. Over recent years the Whitaker fleet in Southampton has been reconfigured to a smaller number of larger capacity tankers. This has provided economies of scale and greater efficiency in operating costs, but unfortunately this adjustment also diminished our ability to service a ferry operation demanding frequent deliveries of relatively small amounts.”

“There was a mismatch of availability because the ferries would be taking up to ten deliveries a week across all the fleet. This was further complicated by the need often to fuel very late at night to fit in with the ferries’ operating schedules.

“Obviously our refuelling tankers can only be in one place at a time and the crews are subject to strict regulations governing working hours. Whilst we didn’t want to lose a valuable customer, the Wightlink account was beginning to become a logistical headache.”

For Wightlink the only alternative would be to switch over to a more expensive grade of marine gas oil, (red diesel), which can be delivered by road transport. This was not an attractive proposition since it would increase the fuel bill potentially by more than 50 percent.

The solution

An obvious solution would be to provide a buffer store with self service facilities, essentially drawing from standard practice used in the road transport sector. As well as operational benefits, a large capacity storage tank would allow greater control over fuel costs by enabling the customer to negotiate better prices for bulk deliveries.

Since quayside facilities are very limited in Portsmouth, Wightlink was already using a fixed mooring within Portsmouth harbour for refuelling by Whitaker’s bunker barges. By chance of foresight, these moorings also included an ex-NATO dumb barge which had been purchased some years before and was being used for general storage.

The barge had been used previously as a helicopter landing platform and its deck had been covered with tarmac. An initial survey showed that it was structurally sound and stable enough to be used to support a floating fuel oil storage facility. A study was launched to work out the optimum tank capacity and also the implications for setting up an oil storage facility within such a highly sensitive marine environment.

Implementation

“Clearly fuel oil is potentially a marine pollutant, and storing it on open water is something that had to be looked at very carefully. We began a lengthy consultation with the harbour authorities to explain our proposals and Wightlink called in their own naval architects to design the barge’s structural modifications to ensure that it could do the job.

“Having satisfied the harbour authorities that it was a viable project we then set out to find a supplier with the expertise and resources we needed to design and manufacture the storage tanks. As well as the primary fuel oil for propulsion, a second tank was needed for the higher grade marine gas-oil used by the ferries’ generators and refrigeration plant.

“Oil Tank Supplies (OTS) of Moreton-in-Marsh was the obvious choice for this commission,” Ashley Jenkins continues. “Although this was new territory for Whitaker Tankers, we had other ferry clients who had worked successfully with OTS for many years, and we knew they were very experienced with similar, (but shore based) installations at the local ferry port.”

OTS was very enthusiastic as this was quite an unusual job – meeting very specific requirements for a floating platform. They fully understood the requirements set out by the design specification and associated risk assessment for the installation.

Detailed technical proposals together with cost estimates were provided by OTS to Wightlink for a self contained facility based on two fully bunded storage tanks, each incorporating the dispensing pumps, hose reels and effective process control equipment.

“Also as there were two tanks on a floating platform we had to take into account the effect on trim – fore and aft – for different amounts of contents within each tank – the worst case scenario being the larger tank full and the small tank empty. The naval architects factored all manner of stress and stability calculations to ensure that no permutation would cause a problem. They did a great job as our subsequent experience has proven it to be a very stable platform.”

“Whitaker Tankers’ primary role from this point was to facilitate the project in its marine aspect. We were responsible for the shipping logistics and we had to satisfy the local port authorities that this was a safe operation and that we could service it professionally going forward,” says Ashley Jenkins.

“In consultation with Wightlink and OTS we calculated that the safe operational storage capacity would be 146 m3litres of fuel oil and 79 m3 of gas oil. This capacity included considerable safety margin to prevent any possibility of overfilling the tanks.”

“Also as there were two tanks on a floating platform we had to take into account the effect on trim – fore and aft – for different amounts of contents within each tank – the worst case scenario being the larger tank full and the small tank empty. The naval architects factored all manner of stress and stability calculations to ensure that no permutation would cause a problem. They did a great job as our subsequent experience has proven it to be a very stable platform.”

The barge was brought to Southampton for refurbishment and fitting out by a local shipyard. Final stage was the delivery of the tanks to Eastern Docks where they were craned aboard the barge, all equipment secured and the barge towed back to Portsmouth for training and trials.

Each tank is a self contained dispensing facility with flow rate meter, delivery pump, hose reel and tank to tank connections. In addition to this each of the tanks is fitted with alarms to provide an additional line of defence and the tank design incorporated 110 percent capacity bunds, to contain any leakage.

In operation, filling procedures are monitored by experienced and qualified crew and the process is strictly controlled to ensure absolutely no risk of spills from the tank.

Results

“Having installed the floating tank, fuel replenishment is now a straightforward process. We simply top up the tank as and when required and the ferry crews take bunkers at their convenience and times to suit their busy schedule. After initial training by OTS staff, the ferry crews were competent to handle refuelling by themselves and they have adopted the procedure without any difficulties.

“We work on the basis of a flawless performance, so there is zero tolerance — nothing is allowed to spill into the water…”

The changeover to self-refuelling went smoothly and has now become part of the operational routine for Wightlink ferries. The platform has now been in service for over three years without any problems. From the point of view of customer service, we have had excellent feedback; it really has been a win – win result all round.

“We work on the basis of a flawless performance, so there is zero tolerance – nothing is allowed to spill into the water,” stresses Ashley Jenkins, adding; “Every joint is enclosed and isolated from the environment. We would not put our name to this if there was any undue risk.”

Ashley concludes by saying: “To reassure the Port Authority, we determined from the outset the importance of appointing a highly professional and reputable tank storage specialist – OTS – who continue to provide on-going service support. Protection of the environment is paramount and we couldn’t find a company better qualified to support this project. With OTS we knew that all equipment would be designed and manufactured to the very highest standards and in full compliance with the latest regulations – in excess of that in fact – so we can be confident that the system is future proof.”

Commenting on the Wightlink project, OTS Chief Executive, Bruce Woodall said:

“As fuel storage specialists, a marine installation represents the ultimate challenge, where the protection of the environment is paramount.”
“Now one of our largest dual tank installations, the Wightlink fuelling station was a great opportunity to showcase our engineering and design capabilities – working in partnership with Whitaker Tankers to deliver a sustainable solution, which in turn has enabled the end-user customer to achieve greater operational efficiencies.”