18 Jul 2019 By Russell Dupuy

How wetstock management can assist with fuel vapour monitoring and compliance at the same time

It’s the topic on everybody’s lips – climate change, environmental impact and what we should be doing about it. There are a lot of factors that contribute to climate change – but the main culprit specific to retail petroleum is vapour loss, making it a target for various EPA’s.

Despite regulations that took full effect in 2017 within defined regions of NSW, Australia, anecdotal evidence indicates that a vast majority of vapour recovery systems have been installed and forgotten about – until the dispenser stops working.

 Several operators adopted the automatic monitoring system over the manual testing method, but have come to learn that it is not a set and forget solution. Many major oils have also discovered that their systems are simply not doing what they expected them to do, resulting in potential compliance breaches. 

Whilst major and minor oil companies globally are genuinely concerned about the fact that hydrocarbon releases from retail petroleum contribute to climate change and other environmental crises, the difference between thinking and knowing your vapour emission control is working correctly becomes critical.

Because of this, retail petroleum is being targeted by EPA’s and state governments through the introduction of tighter regulations. Meeting them is becoming increasingly important not just for the environment, but for the financial success of your business.

How retail fuel is impacting our climate

Setting aside mining, power generation and combustion engines, fuel releases for retail petroleum present two contributing causes to climate change:

Below ground release:

This refers to fuel system leaks, which can have severe negative impacts on the environment through contamination of soil and groundwater. Contamination may migrate beyond the retail outlet physical boundaries and impact adjoining properties, local communities and the broader environment. 

This release is generally what retailers are most concerned about, due to the financial cost to business. Experience a leak, and you will be financially responsible for:

  • Clean up costs
  • Cost of lost inventory
  • EPA fines
  • Lost business during closure for repairs
  • Reputational damage

Above ground release:

This refers to the release of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) into the atmosphere, directly contributing to smog, poor air quality and ozone layer depletion. Vapour is released in one of two ways:

  1.   When a fuel tanker replenishes fuel tank stock at the retail outlet
  2.   When customers refuel their vehicle petrol tank

Above ground release currently has fewer direct financial impacts on your business, but the application of stricter regulations could soon change this.

State governments and EPA’s are concentrating more on VOC’s because of their direct contribution to climate change. More countries and states are adopting stricter regulations with the aim to decrease high concentrations of VOC’s in built up areas and major metropolitan cities.

How do you stay compliant? Know where your fuel is going.

Paying attention to and acting on the ways your site is contributing to climate change not only helps the environment, but will also prove beneficial to your business. The financial and social impact of non-compliance can be incredibly high.

An effective way to do this is to have a firm grasp on your wetstock management – knowing where your fuel is going and why can help you avoid issues with non-compliance or significant fuel loss.

This means to consistently and accurately:

  • Install and commission fuel system equipment
  • Measure and record fuel variances in real time
  • Escalate unacceptable fuel variances promptly
  • Monitor and report on your fuel losses

To achieve this, you need all your processes, systems and equipment to be working correctly. Sound simple enough?

If only this were the case.

One retailer discovered on further investigation that some 67% of her Stage 1 vapour recovery systems were not performing as they should be.

This is not a one-off example, and shows the importance of a correctly installed system which can alert you not only to fuel variances, but to a change in status or failure within the system itself.

Protect our environment and yourself with integrated wetstock management 

The Australian state of New South Wales has introduced targeted mandated vapour recovery in an attempt to reduce and recapture VOC’s and minimise environmental impact. 

While vapour recovery is not compulsory in every region or country, the best way to keep track of your emissions is with an integrated real-time wetstock management system.

While it will not recover lost vapour, by integrating all existing equipment and providing real time analysis, it will keep you alerted to your vapour emissions and any fuel variances you experience – both above and below ground.

This is why Fuelsuite was developed- in recognition of growing management needs and frequent equipment failures.

Fuelsuite is driven by real-time raw data and uses intelligent analytics to deliver insights to combat system inadequacies by:

  • Alerting you to unacceptable fuel variance, system failures and noncompliance
  • Monitoring performance and notifying you of any inconsistencies in both tanks and pumps
  • Estimating what your vapour emissions are, reporting and quantifying them so you can better understand their impact
  •  Alerting you to whether your vapour recovery (if installed) is working correctly or not

EMS is the creator of Fuelsuite, and a leading provider of wetstock management solutions globally. If you’re looking for the tools to effectively monitor your fuel loss and stay compliant, click here to contact EMS.