Safe tank lining training in Africa

The Scope of the Project

HSSE Training by the Wolftank safety instructor

The prevention of environmental contamination caused by hazardous storage liquids and safe tank lining is a topic addressed by national economies, environmental ministries and oil companies worldwide. Practically, in the case we describe in this study, the soil to be protected is constantly exposed to underground storage tanks containing and handling hazardous liquids, such as petrol and diesel and other chemical products.
In Europe over the past years the European Union and individual countries have taken measures to control and prevent leakage of hazardous liquids into the ground by issuing laws requiring the installation of double-walled underground storage tanks with corresponding leak detection units. However, these norms, requirements and thus state of the art has not been implemented fully in other countries of the world, in spite of an increasing trend during the past years to do so.

Economies and the petroleum industry sector in Africa are developing largely in terms of oil exploration, refining and retail. Especially the retail service stations coverage on the African continent is recently showing a trend of raising density alongside the increase of local mobility.
The existing network of local service stations shows increasing signs of technical standard deficiency, with highly corroded tanks and increasing leakage risk. The growing market for service stations across Africa along with the assets’ environmental risk have become a key driver to choose between constructing new service stations, and therefore installing new, or installing tank linings as a measure of tank lifetime extension within stations’ modernization campaigns.

The Challenge

A local major oil company (MOC) in East Africa who identified the need to line several hundreds of tanks in their service station network disclosed their doubt about existing resin technology and local contractors with lower technical and safety skill level to us, obviously related to a lack of implementation of state of the art coating and lining technology in African countries in general.
The main challenge: Train the local contractor on safe tank lining and work in confined space, support contractor in the implementation of tank lining campaign.

The Solution

Picture of the lined demo tank

Wolftank compiled a documentation package describing

  • the coating technology,
  • quality documents and
  • HSSE booklet with further risk assessment documents for each step of the tank lining.

With the documentation having been analysed by the MOC and all questions answered in local meetings, decision was taken to enable a pilot installation with the preferred local contractor of the MOC.
During the preparation phase, the local contractor was introduced in installation and safety equipment and sourced it either locally or via European companies. The investment included equipment such as compressor, airless machine and testing devices, special safety tripod and personal protection equipment, e.g. full face mask, etc.
During the execution phase, the contractor was further trained theoretically and practically on the job and actively supervised during a following lining pilot of 4 underground storage tanks.

The Outcome

The pilot was successfully and safely completed and the supervision phase has begun with a large tank lining campaign being implemented during the European summertime.
The team’s professionalism and quality were highlighted by the MOC who are convinced that implementing European standard in safe tank lining in Africa is possible.