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Safe Storage Considerations for Excess Oil Inventories



Oil has been called the lifeblood of the economy for decades and continues to be a vital resource for nations around the world. Oil is used for vehicles, the making of plastic, rubber, and countless other items. In an economy where the price of oil has plummeted, there are many reasons to believe that stockpiling oil in your organization may be a prudent investment.

The Opportunities

Storage has been a market that has brought success to entrepreneurs for years. The concept of buying low and selling high is a very basic concept and easy to understand. Even if you are not into the idea of distributing oil, you are a consumer of it on some level. If you have the facilities to stockpile oil in sufficient quantities during the low price season, the rewards will be immediate when the prices rise again.

Tapping into the oil market may not be your first inclination, and when it comes to storage it is certainly out of scope for the average individual or business. The regulations, competition and associated risks are extremely difficult barriers to overcome. The greatest opportunity is not in generating profit but in saving revenue.

Don’t Make a Mess

You may not be stockpiling your oil. You may simply have improved efficiency and need to restructure your inventory management system to accommodate excess oil.  There are several concerns with storing oil, but the two primary issues are containment and security. Oil is not hazardous to the touch in small doses, but it does pose significant health hazards in large doses and can severely damage the environment if it is not properly handled. While major oil spills are not common, the images of oil soaked animals and oil covered beaches are not easily forgotten. The last thing you want is for your company logo to be oil soaked in the background picture of a spill you caused on the evening news.

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Your used oil needs to be disposed of with the same care that new oil is stored. Once there is a spill and OSHA protocols are in play, the costs can be unimaginable and your organization is best served by preventing a spill at all costs. When you consider your options for storage and containers you need to avoid the cheapest route and make decisions that will result in effective oil management. You would not pour gasoline in a Styrofoam cup and you should not store oil in an open container exposed to the elements.

Oil Storage Options

The container industry has an uncountable number of plastics and alloys to choose from in making liquid storage containers. The best option for storage is going to depend on several variables. If your company is in a rural area with low security concerns you may be able to store your oil in an above ground metal tank inside of a simple shed. If you are in the heart of the city with very strict regulations and possibly high security concerns, the rural approach may not work for you. Constructing an underground storage area with a plastic tank immune from rust and not susceptible to theft may be the best approach. These are great options when you have a few hundred gallons or more on a regular basis.

If you are only looking to store two hundred or less gallons of fluid you may decide to use the 55 gallon barrels or plastic oil containers specifically designed for oil storage. What you do not want to do is use a make-shift tank out of something that wasn’t designed for oil. Gasoline in a Styrofoam cup is a fun experiment for your science class, but is not wise for your business. From the perspectives of finance and risk management, it does not reward you to cut corners. Storing oil has rules just like any other hazardous or controlled fluid and it pays to do your research. eCompliance.com is a great site for researching the relevant standards that apply to your situation and finding a solution to ensure their proper implementation. A review of the standards on the website may reveal to you that it is best to not keep excess oil from a cost prohibitive standpoint. Regardless of your needs, there is a solution for you.

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Ray Donato is an Army veteran and freelance writer who contributes articles and advice on issues affecting the business world.