How to store oil safely and legally

Oil container pipework and fittings requirements


To comply with the Oil Storage Regulations you must ensure all pipework, above and below ground, is correctly positioned and properly maintained. There is a particular risk of oil leaks from poorly fitted pipes. Ideally, pipes should be above ground.

Follow requirements for above-ground oil pipework

You must locate all pipework and fittings (ancillary equipment) within the secondary containment systems (SCS). This includes valves, filters, sight gauges and vent pipes.

Where a fill pipe is not within the SCS, you must use a drip tray to catch any oil spilled when the container is being filled. You should make sure this drip try is clean and empty before each delivery.

You must also:

  • ensure any fill pipe, draw-off pipe or vent pipe is properly supported
  • ensure that any sight gauge is properly supported and fitted with a valve that closes automatically when it's not in use
  • position all pipework where there is minimal risk of collision or damage

Prevent leaks from oil pipework

You must protect metal fill pipes, draw-off pipes or overflow pipes from corrosion.

You must position any vent pipe, tap or valve through which oil can be discharged from the tank into the open so any spilt oil is retained within the SCS.

Follow requirements for below-ground oil pipework

If pipework is underground, you must ensure that it:

  • has no mechanical joints, except where you can access them for inspection
  • is protected against corrosion and from physical damage
  • has adequate facilities for detecting leaks
  • is not permeable to hydrocarbon vapours

Clearly mark the route of underground pipework on the ground and site plans to avoid accidental damage and help in servicing and maintenance.

Oil leak detection devices

You may decide to fit underground fill or draw-off pipes with a leak detection device. If you use a continuous leak detection device, make sure it's in working order and test it regularly. Keep a record of the test results and any maintenance work completed.

If you don't use a continuous leak detection system you must test underground pipework:

  • before use
  • with mechanical joints every five years
  • at least every ten years

Avoid spills from deliveries and dispensing oil

If a screw fitting or other fixed coupling is fitted to the tank, you must maintain it in good condition and use it when filling the tank.

If you can't see the tank and any vent pipe from where the filling process is controlled, you must fit an automatic overfill prevention device. This could include an alarm or a fail safe device.

If you use a permanently attached, flexible pipe to deliver oil from the tank to a container or delivery pump, you must:

  • fit a tap or valve at the delivery end of the pipe which closes automatically when not in use
  • ensure that the tap or valve cannot be fixed in the open position, unless the pipe is fitted with an automatic shut off device

When a delivery pipe is not in use you must ensure that it either:

  • is kept in a secure, locked cabinet with a drip tray
  • has a lockable valve (locked shut when not in use) where it leaves the container, and that it is kept within an SCS

You must ensure that any pump is:

  • fitted with a valve in its feed line that stops the tank contents draining out if the pump or pipework to the pump is damaged
  • positioned to minimise any risk of damage
  • protected from unauthorised use

Comply with agricultural fuel oil regulations

If you store oil for agricultural use on a farm, for example to produce heat or power, there are separate regulations that govern how you must store it.

Good practice in oil storage

Even if the Oil Storage Regulations do not apply to your oil storage, you should still consider meeting the requirements of the regulations.