What does the Biofuel Mandate mean for Australian Transport Operators?

lots of volvo trucks in a line from Australian transport-operators

Australian Transport Operators, are you prepared for the biofuel evolution?

WITH new laws mandating the sale of biofuels set to take effect in NSW and QLD in January, during one of the road transport industry’s busiest times of year, it’s worth considering your fuel storage options if you run a heavy vehicle fleet.

lots of volvo trucks in a line from Australian transport-operators

In both states, affected servos will have a target of converting 0.5 per cent of their diesel sales volume to biodiesel, which means B5 will need to account for about 10 per cent of all diesel sales.

The new laws will affect fuel retailers in both states from January 1. The good news is that the change is unlikely to cause serious issues for the transport industry, with most modern vehicles able to perform well on B5 biodiesel blends without a problem. However they do mean it’s worth some extra effort when it comes to fuel storage and fuel systems maintenance.

What do biofuels mandates mean for Australian transport operators?

If you run a fleet of trucks, the impact of the biofuels change will depend on the vehicles you use and on how you manage your fuel and refuel your fleet.

For some, biofuels blends are already a major part of their operations. In South Australia, Peats Soil has worked closely with Adelaide University and Scania to develop a fleet which runs on 100 per cent biodiesel. The upside is reduced emissions and a reduced reliance on conventional suppliers.

On the other hand, for conventional fleets biofuel blends can lead to an increased risk of particulate matter travelling through fuel systems, and it is here that care needs to be taken. Poorly maintained diesel fuel is responsible for about 80 per cent of engine failures in the transport industry, and with a new diesel engine costing an average $8000 to overhaul, prevention is definitely better than cure.

In general, blends above B5 may require specialist engine maintenance but using a low blend will make very little difference to performance for most transport fleets. Potential issues can be minimised with proper maintenance regimes and improved fuel management to reduce fuel contamination.

Biodiesel storage and reducing fuel contamination

With Australian approvals for high-performance heavy vehicles reaching new heights in July-September, keeping your fuel in top condition will be more important than ever. Latest generation fuel injectors in diesel engines mean improved performance, but also increased sensitivity, so the experts advise spending a little extra time on getting the basics right.

Because biodiesel blends are able to absorb more water, making sure the fuel you buy is properly stored is the first step.

If you’re storing your own fuel it’s essential to test fuel quality regularly. Diesel bugs flourish at the interface between water and fuel and can spread rapidly, causing fuel to separate and generating particulate matter that can be deadly for high performance diesel engines.

Using a diesel biocide when you refill tanks is highly recommended. If you’ll be storing a biodiesel blend for longer than three months it’s also recommended that you ensure the tank is filled to minimise opportunities for water absorption from the air, which will in turn create more opportunities for diesel bugs to spread.

Biodiesel blends also tend to clean fuel systems, loosening dirt and old fuel deposits and carrying them to the vehicle’s fuel filter.

While the effects of this are minimised in low blends, these changes still happen over time, particularly in older vehicles. Mechanics recommend that fuel filters in older vehicles be replaced after every few tanks of biodiesel blend. There’s also a small risk of fuel system components like seals, hoses and gaskets degrading, so it’s important to check components regularly.

At the storage end, tanks should be flushed and cleaned before they are used to store a biodiesel blend, particularly if there has been diesel bug contamination.

The right tank makes the difference

Ensuring the integrity of your fuel storage tanks – making sure they are free of leaks and corrosion – is easy when you’re using the right tanks.

F.E.S. TANKS produces a range of self-bunded, low maintenance transportable tanks for the transport industry, with easy access manholes to make it cleaning and testing easy.

Our tanks are designed to keep biofuels safe in an environment that is efficient, reliable, durable and controllable.

We also provide a range of diesel biocides, and our expert technicians can give you the advice and support you need to ensure your fuel storage and fuel management systems will keep your business running at maximum efficiency.

If you should require any advice please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact us today.

Our typical sales conversation for self bunded tanks

two people on the phone having a sales conversation

Today I would like to talk about You, Me and our potential sales conversation.

I’m talking about you as the customer and me as the supplier.

First, this is a long email, so go and get a cup of tea or coffee as this could take some time to read.

two people on the phone having a sales conversation

Over the weekend, I was sitting with a few of my mates talking about the challenges of running a business. We’re a pretty diverse bunch – there was a project manager, a fitness instructor, a plumber, an aluminium fabricator and a financial adviser. (Sounds like the start of a joke. Trust me, there is no joke involved here.)

Even though we are all operate in different businesses we all agreed on one thing. There seems to be a massive disconnect between where the customer is when they first approach a supplier and where the supplier is upon that first introduction.

Let me explain how I see it, but please tell me if I’m wrong.

At the first point of contact the customer will have an idea in their head on what they want and what price they are willing to pay. Some research may have been done prior, but if it is a complex product it may be the phone call that is the first point of reference.

From the business owners perspective, he hears a simple request but straight away thinks of the different variations and solutions that may come into play in order to address what the customer requires.

There lies the disconnect!!!!!

The customer wants a product and a painless solution to a problem. Combine that with a great price, minimum fuss and no ongoing issues.

The supplier has several options in mind that may affect the working solution and price, all of which are dependent on the customer’s unique requirements.

So whilst the customer wants a simple solution, the suppliers head is racing with options.

And that, my friends, is where we are at on a daily basis…..

Example of a typical sales conversation within F.E.S. TANKS

If I relate this to what we hear daily within our business, hopefully it will help you understand our position and also help you think about the options YOU need to consider.

Customer: Hi, I was after a price for a ????? litre storage tank.

F.E.S. TANKS: Yes, no problem, that price is $$$$ + GST + freight.

Now that is breaking it down to its simplest form. However what I would like to do is try and break the sales conversation down from the perspective of each party, and in doing so really understand what is going on here.

Customer: I am after a price on a ????? litre storage tank. Really, this is only the beginning of what the client wants. The next question is always – does that include a pump?

What is the customers real requirement here?

What the client usually means is: I am after a storage tank with a pumping package as a finished item, and all within my budget of $$$$. I want it delivered to my place of work as a plug and play solution. That is drop it off, fill it up with fuel and start using it. No fuss, no hassles. Job done.

Me (F.E.S. TANKS): Okay No problem. Bunded storage tank, simple. No that doesn’t include a pump. What will you be using it for and what are your requirements?

What is the salesman’s real requirement here?

I need to know

  • Fuel type?
  • Do they want to run a 12V, 24V or 240V deliver system.
  • If it is a 12v system, would they want a solar set-up as a self-generating power source?
  • Do they want to consider normal flow or high flow rates?
  • Do they want to have a simple pumping solution or do they want it metered for accountability?
  • Do they want a manual nozzle or automatic shut-off nozzle?
  • Do they want a simple set-up or do they want a weatherproof solution for added longer term durability.

Hopefully you can see the two different thought processes going on here, with completely different considerations behind them. That said, the one common aspect of both parties is…….PRICE

Both parties have to get what they want for a mutually agreeable price. That means a price where the customer feels like they are getting value on goods and services. It’s also a price where the supplier feels they are delivering a product or service that is reflective of the customer needs but also reflective of their time, effort, experience, and one that is sustainable from a business perspective.

Both parties need to gain from this sales experience.

Business is fundamentally underpinned by relationships. Long term business relationships are underpinned by both parties continually gaining something along the way. These relationships break down over time because inevitably one party feels the other is gaining more at the expense of their misfortune.

So, long story short. Price doesn’t shift (in principle) so something has to. What changes is the mindset of both parties as they move towards that middle ground where both parties benefit.

Now you as a customer reading this will know where you mindset is relation to what you want. What I want to do is explain it a little more from our perspective, with the goal that you may be better informed and have a better understanding of the considerations when looking to buy a Bunded Storage Tank.

What you as a customer should consider when buying a fuel storage tank

  • Tank Storage

You will have an understanding of your operations and fuel usage. That will also give you an idea of the size of tank you require for storage. That part is simple.

We have a range of bunded tanks ranging from 1,000l to 110,000l plus. They are easily adaptable to store different fuel types. They are environmentally friendly with their dual compartment systems (a tank within a tank) as well as being simple to move. They are a precision engineered product that is compliant with all Australian standards and finished with a paint finish that is guaranteed to deliver years of outdoor protection. Job done really.

  • Fuel Pumping

Yes, our tanks are great for storage, but what good is a fuel tank if you can’t get the fuel out of it?

This is where the complexity starts to build with multiple variations and options all very much dependent on YOUR unique situation.

So consider this please, in order of priority:

  1. Fuel type?
  2. Do you want to run off mains power or another power source (12v or 24v)?
  3. Do you want a pump only or do you want it metered for accountability?
  4. What sort of flow rate for delivery do you require? Standard or high flow?

The options on pumping gear are endless. Take a look at some of the pumping kit that we have in our online store to get an idea.

And there you have it. This is just a short list of things to consider, but it is better that you consider them prior to making that first call.

Of course if you are a big operator with big fuel volumes, you will have a whole list of other requirements and this is something that would need to be discussed one on one. For the small to medium operator let us continue.

Costs of Course!!!

Each one of these options listed above will have a cost implication, and this is a cost that needs to be factored into to your overall budget.

The best way to address this is by an example.

As a general rule of thumb I would allow 15-20% of your overall budget for pumping equipment. Of course that is very much dependent of your specific requirements so that range could go up or down depending on the simplicity or complexity of the brief.

YOUR BUDGET ($$$) = 80% TANK ($$$) + 20% PUMPING GEAR ($$$)

By using this formula you should you have a good level of expectation when looking to source a complete storage and pumping solution. However give us a call and so as we can discuss your situation and structure a package that is perfect for you.

Thanks for your time.

Daryl Cygler
(on behalf of the F.E.S. TANKS)

Australia’s first self-loading relocatable self bunded bulk fuel storage solution

HULK - hydraulic un-loading kit for self bunded tanks

Australian-first self-loading, relocatable bulk fuel storage solution

THE search for a better fuel distribution solution for a remote inland shire council has led a Queensland collaboration to come up with an Australian-first. The Hydraulic Un-Loading Kit (HULK) is an optional self-loading system grafted onto a bulk self bunded tank.  It offers a complete self-sufficient relocatable bulk fuel storage solution – and this idea’s got legs!

Diamantina Shire Council on the border of Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia understand the challenges of managing the dispensing, storage and relocation of fuel in remote locations. Construction sites in outback Australia present certain challenges, like a distinct lack of infrastructure and logistics that urban locations take for granted. It was this challenge that prompted Diamantina Shire Council to come up with the concept of a self-loading fuel storage system that would improve logistics, reduce costs and streamline the council’s remote refuelling operations.

Diamantina Shire Council appointed Cairns based Nqpetro, a specialist fuel fit-out company to help bring their concept to life. Nqpetro appointed the market leader in self bunded storage tanks, F.E.S. TANKS, and together the innovative HULK design was born.

The HULK will improve fuel management and logistical costs on hard-to-access remote work sites.

Here’s a demonstration of this impressive new system in action:

F.E.S. works with local government and major industry across Australia to provide innovative next-generation fuel storage solutions designed to take business into the future.

“They were using older style portable above-ground tanks and were continually having to move them, which posed a threat to the integrity of the tanks and a potential environmental and safety risk,” F.E.S. business development manager Daniel Porter says.

“They sometimes had three tanks on the back of a semi-trailer, chained to the tray.

“Theft was a problem too, because there were only certain ways you could lock the tanks.

“The previous fuel distribution systems were also very basic with no filtration and a 240V pump that was hooked up to extension leads.

“Anyone wanting to steal fuel could rock up after hours, plug in their power source and take as much as they wanted.”

The F.E.S. team, who are known for creating tailor-made fuel solutions for business, consulted on the adaption of the HULK system to a self-bunded, high quality 28,000-litre F.E.S. Grande tank. With it’s in-built hydraulic legs engaged it allows the truck to simply drive away while the tank lowers itself into position.

The system makes it easy to position and relocate tanks at remote sites without the cost or logistical issues associated with a crane lift.

It means the council can more securely and safely carry high volumes in a single self-bunded tank, virtually eliminating the risk of fuel leaks due to structural breaches.

The HULK also dramatically reduces opportunities for theft, with the pump contained inside a lockable door, with a separate lockable isolation switch.

The pump has 24V and 12V options so it can be battery powered in case of power failures.

“Basically, it means they can go easily to more remote sites with a bigger volume of fuel storage and enhanced safety, portability and efficiency,” Daniel explains.

“As part of the engineering process we built in additional capacity too, so if they wanted to we could use the system on even our Grande 68,000-litre tanks.

“This system is already attracting plenty of attention from councils and has great potential for the civil construction sector too.”

F.E.S. TANKS would like to extend a big outback thankyou to Diamantina Shire Council for the opportunity to be a part of such an industry changing concept.

For details on how the HULK or other self-loading options from F.E.S. TANKS could work in your situation, contact us on 1300-651-391 or get in touch via our contact form.

Retail Fuel Industry in Australia

retail fuel site canopy and forecourt

A typical fuel retailing business in Australia. Is there such a thing?

Apparently Not…..That’s the major finding of a recent industry analysis that has implications as governments seek to tighten environmental regulations and impose hefty costs for new infrastructure on some operators.

Now fuel retailers are looking for ways to juggle increasing competition and small profit margins with the need to audit and often upgrade infrastructure in line with a tighter regulatory environment.

retail fuel site canopy and forecourt

Is our retail fuel industry healthy?

The ACAPMA iScan 2016 report brought together data from independent bodies including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Department of Industry and authoritative international researchers IBIS World.

It found industry profits were down over the survey period – ACCC figures suggest profits from July 2005 to June 2013 averaged just 2c per litre. The 3.6 per cent gross profit for fuel retailers was below the all-industry average of 4.9 per cent over the same period.

Profit margins have returned to healthier levels over the past two years, however legislative changes mean much of the higher earnings are now being invested in upgrading fuel infrastructure and funding increasing compliance costs.

Who are Australia’s fuel retailers?

In 2015, Australia had 3790 retail fuel businesses.

Two thirds of the nation’s 6400 service stations are operated by more than 3690 businesses, most of them small local operators.

The remaining third are owned by major retailers including BP, Caltex, Coles and Woolworths.

Small retailers are either operating a site that is owned by a larger business, leasing a site from a non-fuel related business or are owner operators.

Small operators can either be operating as commission agents, where they don’t purchase the petrol but are paid a commission for each litre sold at a price set by the supplier, franchises, dealer-owned businesses that operate under a brand agreement with a major fuel company or independent fuel retailers who operate under their own brand.

Legislative changes – time for new fuel storage tanks?

The report identifies a number of new legislative measures, particularly in the east coast states, that will mean many operators will need to make significant capital investments in the 2016/17 financial year, no matter what their business structure.

The major developments include:

  • New biofuel mandates (NSW and QLD) – Over the past 12 months, both state governments have passed legislation mandating the sale of ethanol-blended petrol by fuel retailers.
    The new laws are set to take effect in both states in January 2017, meaning now is the time for retailers to investigate how to make their sites compatible with the storage and sale of ethanol blends.
  • Fuel check regulation (NSW): From July, all NSW retailers will need to advise the State Government every time they make a change to fuel prices on their forecourt.
    Basic contact information needs to be provided to NSW fair Trading by June 30.
  • Fuel price boards (QLD, Tas and Vic): New Victorian laws prohibiting retailers from displaying discounted fuel prices will come into effect in November 2016.
    The Tasmanian and Queensland Governments are investigating similar laws.
  • Fuel price disclosure (NT): In February, the Northern Territory Government announced plans to implement new laws which will require all fuel retailers to regularly report revenues and profits from fuel sales to the government, with fines of up to $60,000 for non-compliance.
  • Vapour Recovery Stage 2 (NSW): All fuel retail sites in Greater Sydney (including Illawarra, Hunter and Central Coast regions) selling more than 0.5ML of petrol per year were required to comply with stage one vapour recovery regulations by January 1, 2015.
  • Now, businesses operating retail fuel sites that sell more than 3.5ML of petrol each year will need to be compliant with vapour recovery stage 2 (VR2) requirements by January 2017.

How do I prepare my business?

Preparing for the changes means checking your infrastructure now.

If you are in NSW or Queensland and your business operates with older underground tanks, integrity testing of fuel storage tanks and lines is important to prepare for the new ethanol requirements.

Storing ethanol fuel requires extra vigilance to keep water from the fuel to prevent phase separation and the growth of bio-organisms that can hasten tank corrosion and have disastrous effects on engines.

Tight margins and stricter environmental regulations also mean it’s more important than ever to keep track of your fuel and ensure pumps, lines and bowsers are correctly calibrated.

A broken or slow bowser could lead to forecourt queues that will lose you business.

Keeping your fuel fresh

An increasingly competitive environment means spoiled fuel could do serious damage to your reputation and your bottom line.

When storing ethanol blends it’s particularly important to ensure you have a regular quality maintenance program in place, including using a water-finding paste.

Fuel management systems that monitor the levels in your tanks can also help by ensuring you keep tanks at the optimal level to avoid excess condensation and water absorption.

If your underground storage systems (UPSS) are 20 years old or more, it might be time to consider replacing the tanks with a new system.

Modern tanks have dual walls to meet the highest standards of environmental compliance, and decommissioning your old tanks now and replacing them with new tanks could save you big dollars in emergency clean-up, business downtime and environmental fines down the track.

Getting in early with the right equipment will help you stay ahead of the legislative changes and remain competitive and profitable in a rapidly changing market.

Australia’s Fuel Supply Security

australias fuel supply security cartoon

Australia’s fuel supply security. All is not what it seems.

TENSIONS in the South China Sea over recent weeks have again thrown the spotlight on Australia’s fuel supply security.

australias fuel supply security cartoon
Artwork: Sarah Boese

Retired Air Vice Marshall John Blackburn, who has produced major reports on the issue for the NRMA, went so far as to say Australia’s entire food, medicine and water distribution was hanging on a “just in time” approach to transport fuel supply.

What he means is that with Australia’s strategic fuel stockpiles as low as 34 days and more than 85 per cent of refined fuel imported, predominantly from Asia, any major disruption would be bleak.

Australia has closed four refineries since 2003 and the trend to importing from Asia, where huge facilities are far more cost-efficient, is unlikely to stop.

Engineers Australia told a Senate inquiry in 2015 that the country’s total stockholding of oil and liquid fuel amounted to two weeks of supply at sea, 5-12 days’ supply at refineries, 10 days of refined stock at terminals and three days at service stations.

The Australian Government has agreed in principle to produce a plan to add 40 days of fuel reserves, due for release later this year.

For farmers, this will need to address concerns including the location of the stockpiles – if storage increases but there’s still a reliance on road transport to get the supply to regional areas, what are the implications?

Mr Blackburn told the ABC getting fuel stocks to where they’re needed is key – and it’s a process heavily reliant on fuel supply.

“What’s important is what type of fuel you’ve got and where, because we can’t move fuel around Australia readily,” he said.

“We can’t move by rail anymore because we don’t have the rolling stock, we don’t own ships anymore and the trucks that move fuel are designed for ‘just in time’ commercial deliveries.”

Fuel shortages, we’ve been here before.

Recent history shows it doesn’t take much to cause regional fuel shortages and a major headache for farmers.

An aerial shot of Tullamarine. (Melbourne Airport)

  • In the same year industrial action caused disruptions in Queensland in May, when the Maritime Union of Australia briefly blocked entrance to the Caltex refinery at Lytton in a rally after tanker ship job cuts.

What are the risks?

WHEN grain grower Corey Blacksell worries about fuel supply, it’s industrial action that is one of his biggest fears.

“I do see fuel security as a big risk,” he says.

“The more imminent issues are industrial issues – it wouldn’t take many boatloads of fuel to be delayed to cause major disruption.

“The risk is we’re importing our fuel – there’s not a lot of stuff sitting at Port Adelaide at any one time.”

Regional conflict – not necessarily involving Australia- is also a concern, with major shipping routes travelling through the increasingly tense South China Sea region.

The United States and China are locked in a struggle over navigational freedom, with Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines weighing in.

A conflict could interrupt supply through blockades on the lanes, but also by forcing Asian countries to reduce their exports to bolster their own emergency fuel holdings and feed increased defence force needs.

There’s also the potential that because Australia doesn’t have its own flagships, threats to foreign crews could lead them to abandon risky routes.

The NRMA says even a 20-40 per cent cut in the fuel supply would lead to a situation where communities would quickly start running out of basics like food and medicine and the transport-reliant economy would start to shut down.

What happens in a fuel emergency?

Suppliers say it’s still very unlikely Australia would need to enter a state of liquid fuel emergency.

However if a national supply emergency was declared, essential users including Ambulance services, corrective services, fire and rescue crews, police and public transport services would have priority access to fuel.

Rationing would apply to all other users.

Caltex refinery at Lytton

What can businesses do?

The Australian Institute of Petroleum puts the onus back on industry to take precautions.

For business owners, this means considering options like increasing on-site fuel storage.

“Many large fuel users only hold limited stocks on the expectation that stocks will be held by fuel suppliers, or indeed governments will intervene to protect their interests if supplies are limited,” they say.

“This expectation creates a vulnerability in the transport fuel supply chain.”

“Fuel suppliers do not hold buffer stocks to guarantee the ongoing normal business operation of all major fuel users and distributors during a major supply disruption.”

The institute recommends making a careful analysis of fuel usage to inform a plan of what to do if supply is disrupted.

“Actions should also be taken by major fuel users to address any unacceptable business risk arising from a fuel supply shortage, including investing in their own extra stockholdings and storage capacity, improving fuel supply management and changing business priorities to avoid or minimise the impact of business fuel supply disruption.”

A fuel management and refuelling system and can help inform this type of strategy by providing up to date data on your business fuel use including detailed figures on consumption, seasonal variations and where the most fuel is being used.

Improving storage capacity by going with higher capacity tanks, or buying relocatable tanks that can be filled and placed in key work areas in times where disruption is a risk, are other options worth considering.

For help with creating a strategy, ask the expert engineers and technicians at F.E.S. TANKS for a free consultation.

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A Bulk Fuel Buying Guide for Farmers – Save Money Guaranteed

fuel tanker truck in the countryside

A Best Practice Guide to Purchasing Fuel for Farmers

The purchasing process is central to efficient use of diesel and other liquid fuels.

Factors influencing liquid-fuel-purchasing decisions include storage life, potential fuel losses, and the legislative and financial implications of large-scale on-site storage. Fresh fuel is more energy-efficient than aged fuel, and planning the delivery of fuel around peak demand is key to effective fuel management. There are a number of buying strategies that can help you to negotiate the best price, avoid wastage and maximise return on fuel investment.

fuel tanker truck in the countryside

Introduction

Diesel and other liquid fuels account for up to 90 per cent of energy use in the NSW cropping and extensive livestock sectors (Energetics, 2013).

While farmers typically use large qualities of fuel – six-figure annual fuel bills are common – there are limits on their ability to purchase in bulk and gain the fuel price discounts achievable in other sectors of Australian industry.

This paper considers the key drivers of liquid fuel prices, considerations for storing purchased fuel to avoid losses and reduce cost, and the potential impacts of old or out-of-season fuel on engine efficiency.

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Price fluctuations and their drivers

The price of petroleum products in Australia is affected principally by the following factors

  • the crude oil spot market(s) and supply and demand factors such as world GDP growth projections and geopolitical supply factors
  • the strength or weakness of the Australian dollar, particularly in comparison to the US dollar (as oil is bought and sold in US dollars), and
  • federal government excise and taxes including the results of the parity pricing system. Farmers receive a 38.143 cent fuel tax credit. From 1 July 2012, credit was reduced with an amount equal to the prevailing price on carbon (Australian Taxation Office, 2013).

Australia’s regional market for petroleum products is the AsiaPacific market. The diesel price in our regional market is driven by supply and demand, not production costs. Australian demand growth for diesel has been strong, particularly as a result of the mining and commodity boom of recent years. This has contributed to the increase in the regional (Asia-Pacific) demand for diesel and as a result, diesel prices have risen in the region, including Australia.

Australian wholesale prices for petrol and diesel (including spot Terminal Gate Prices) are closely linked to the Singapore prices of petrol and diesel – not to crude oil prices. Australian fuel wholesalers use a pricing methodology known as import parity pricing which is based on what it would cost to import fuel into Australia.

The Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP) publishes weekly reports on wholesale and retail pump prices for diesel and other fuels.

Around 25 percent of the diesel used in Australia is sold through retail outlets, with the other 75 percent sold in bulk to commercial/industrial customers, such as mining and transport companies, on long-term contract. Therefore, retail diesel prices are not subject to aggressive discounting between fuel retailers, as petrol more commonly is. In more remote and regional areas of Australia, diesel retail prices are set primarily by independent owner/operators. Higher prices reflect lower fuel volumes and sales along with increased freight and distribution costs. Limits to on-farm fuel storage Safety and compliance Economically, the cost of purchasing a compliant fuel storage tank plus required bunding and safety controls could be prohibitive in making large-scale fuel storage a viable, cost effective option.

Quick Tips

 

  • Don’t try to ‘pick the market’. 

Buying ‘cheap’ is generally a risky strategy.

  • ‘Fresh’ fuel is more energy-efficient.

Limit the amount of fuel you purchase to no more than a month of the supply required to support operations.

  • Keep good fuel records.

Can help for planning purchases well ahead of time.

  • Synchronise your purchasing cycle

Plan ahead for expected winter/summer fuel changes (for instance, re-stock in May for your winter fuel requirements).

  • Use a supplier that guarantees fuel quality

Use a supplier that provides detailed delivery data in a format that facilitates your own record keeping and fuel management system.

  • Maintain infrastructure.

Ensure that tanks are well sealed to keep out dust and water, and install filtration devices.

Limits to on-farm fuel storage

​Safety and compliance

Economically, the cost of purchasing a compliant fuel storage tank plus required bunding and safety controls could be prohibitive in making large-scale fuel storage a viable, cost-effective option.

What is a Bund?

“A bund is a structure designed to prevent inundation and breaches.”

Round self-bunded fuel tank with crash-protective posts

Externally self-bunded fuel tank with crash-protective posts

Square self-bunded fuel tank with crash-protective posts

Internal ISO containerised self-bunded fuel tank with crash-protective posts

Each state in Australia has legislation in the form of Acts and Regulations for Workplace Health & Safety (WH&S) and for protection of the environment. Owners of above-ground tanks and fuel suppliers have obligations under their respective state legislations, breaches of which may carry heavy penalties.

Smaller bunded tank options also exist and are adaptable to on-site requirements. Environmental regulations vary dependent on local authorities but we would recommend tanks over 4000 litres need to be protected by some form of bunding in case of leakage or rupture.

4,500litre fuel storage tank

4,500 litre internally bunded fuel storage tank.

Storage life of fuel

Fuels deteriorate and are formulated to suit specific seasonal conditions. Using old or out-of-season fuel will reduce engine efficiency and increase services costs. A sensible limit on the size of a single bulk delivery is therefore the quantity of the fuel that a farm can use while that fuel remains fresh.

Under normal storage conditions, diesel fuel can be expected to stay in a useable condition for 12 months or longer at an ambient temperature of 20 °C; six to 12 months at an ambient temperature higher than 30 °C (British Petroleum, 2005).

As diesel gets older, fine sediment and gum forms in the fuel, brought about by the reaction of diesel components with oxygen from the air. The fine sediment and gum will block fuel filters, leading to fuel starvation and to the engine stopping.

Frequent filter changes are then required to keep the engine going. The gums and sediments do not burn in engines very well and can lead to carbon and soot deposits on injectors and other combustion surfaces, and to a corresponding decrease in combustion efficiency.

Other costs to consider are the maintenance cost of tanks, and the capital tied up in the inventory of fuel being stored.

Fuel quality issues

Cleanliness of diesel is very important and can reduce engine efficiency and engine life significantly. These problems compound if large-scale storage is considered. Dust and water are the main offenders in fuel cleanliness, but there is a range of technology available for continuous tank filtration, filtration at delivery point and on-vehicle filtration. Some experiential data has shown improvements in fuel economy by up to four percent, subject to initial fuel contamination (LSM Technologies, 2013) (Parsons Australia, 2012).

The difference between summer and winter diesel is the ‘Cloud Point’ property. All diesel fuels contain wax, which is usually a liquid solution in the fuel. At low temperatures, the wax begins to solidify and crystals form in the diesel. As the temperature drops, these crystals grow and can block filters, starving engines of fuel. The Cloud Point is the temperature at which the wax crystals first appear. At this stage they are too small to block diesel engine filters.

Generally, summer and winter additives won’t have a large impact on engine efficiency. The specification for diesel varies by month so that the fuel available is appropriate for the expected seasonal weather. There is a two-month lead time on the distribution of the fuel, so that any diesel purchased in May will be winter grade, suitable for the cold period from the start of May until the end of July. To avoid winter waxing problems, plan to change over all your diesel fuel by May at the latest. It is important that you don’t keep summer fuel for winter use. Suppliers such as BP provide information on how to identify and rectify this problem(British Petroleum, 2005).

Buying strategies

The price of diesel fluctuates due to an array of factors, as discussed. However, buying diesel in bulk (greater than one or two months’ supply, for example, in large-volume users) is rarely a viable strategy for farmers due to the storage life of diesel, the cost of storage and the stringent regulatory requirements for storing flammable and combustible fuels on farms. Security of supply will also be a concern for larger operations as the diesel supply chain is structured for supply at regular intervals. Such a strategy could result in a shortfall in farm fuel supply at a critical time.

Individual farms are unlikely to consume sufficient quantities of fuel to attract significant bulk fuel discounts. In pursuit of logistical savings, distributors may in future change patterns of delivery to small consumers. Establishing or becoming part of buyer groups or cooperatives may be an alternative if this offers sufficient volume to be attractive to suppliers.

A feasibility study (Co-operative Development Services, ltd., 2001) into rural fuel cooperatives in Victoria has found that the most efficient and least risky option for supply and delivery of fuel to primary producers and other bulk fuel users is for a cooperative to act as a fuel broker. This study suggested that the risks in price volatility must be transferred by cooperatives to the supplier.

Extracted from the NSW Farmers Association ‘Farm Energy Innovation Program’. [click here]

Conclusion

You more than anyone will know your buying patterns in relation to the daily operations of the farm. What is less known is the external forces that dictate the reliability of your supply chain.

Always maintain frequent communications with suppliers so as to understand the market place and to be ahead of any potential supply and pricing issues.

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Australian Fuel Storage Regulations

Australian Fuel Storage Regulations

Australian Fuel Storage Regulations. A Statewide Directory

Updated 6 February, 2018

When you’re making decisions about your fuel storage, knowing the fuel storage regulations that apply in your state should be an important part of your decision.

In Australia, regulations can surround everything from how and where you install your storage system to how regularly you maintain it, how you prevent leaks and how you handle safety around your storage site.

The regulatory environment is changing. To help you navigate the current situation, we’ve put together a guide to some of the most useful sites for regulatory information in each state.

Underground Fuel Storage

Underground Petroleum Storage Systems (UPSS) have the potential to leak, leading to expensive clean-up bills and damage to the environment.

UPSS Regulations require owners and operators to regularly check for leaks in the fuel tanks and pipes used to store and handle petroleum products. They also need to meet minimum standards in their day-to-day environmental management of these storage systems.

While environmental regulations apply in each Australian state, each has slightly different requirements for the storage and maintenance of underground petroleum tanks. In particular, a review of underground fuel storage regulations will begin in NSW in 2018, and the South Australian Environmental Protection Authority is developing a new code of practice on the design, installation and management of UPSS.

You’ll find the essential information for your state at the links below:

QUEENSLAND

The Queensland Government’s business and industry portal’s information on standards, codes of practice and guidelines as outlined in the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 and the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Regulation 2004.

https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industry/mining/safety-health/petroleum-gas/technical/guidelines-policies

NEW SOUTH WALES

Under an amendment to the regulation introduced in 2017,  EPA will continue as the regulatory authority for UPSS matters in NSW until 31 August, 2019. Prior to that date, the EPA will provide expanded technical guidance to improve environmental management and support opportunities to adapt to new fuel handling and storage technologies and environmental needs.

This EPA site provides the essential information on the updated regulation on the management and operation of underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS).
http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/clm/upss.htm

VICTORIA

The Victorian EPA published updated guidelines for the design, installation and management of underground fuel storage systems in 2015. You can find the guidelines http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/our-work/publications/publication/2015/august/888-4

TASMANIA

If you’re operating in Tasmania, you’ll need to comply with the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2010.
http://epa.tas.gov.au/policy-site/Pages/UPSS-Regulations.aspx

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

Check the Environmental Guidelines for Service Station Sites and Hydrocarbon Storage (January 2014) for information on UPSS and above ground fuel storage requirements.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Information about legislation administered by the Department of Environmental Regulation, including legislation around petroleum and contaminated sites, can be found here. For information on dangerous goods codes of practice, go to this site. http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/Dangerous-Goods/Dangerous-goods-safety-codes-of-6508.aspx

Information on when a licence is required for the storage of dangerous goods can be found here. http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/Dangerous-Goods/When-is-a-dangerous-good-site-4427.aspx

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The South Australian EPA is in the process of developing a code of practice on the design, installation and management of UPSS.

In the interim, the EPA recommends compliance with the Victorian EPA Guidelines on the Design, Installation and Management Requirements for Underground Petroleum Storage Systems as a means of ensuring that all reasonable and practical measures are taken in regard to complying with the Environment Protection Act 1993 and the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2015.

For further information on the assessment of sites containing UPSS, go to the EPA Guidelines for assessment of underground storage systems.

Information about when you need a SA fuel storage licence and how to apply is available at this site. http://www.safework.sa.gov.au/uploaded_files/ds_pp_info.pdf

Above ground fuel storage tanks – bunding and safety

If you’re installing fuel storage above ground, there are a particular environmental safety and workplace safety regulations that could apply. See the links below for information relevant in your state.
Safe Work Australia – The National Code of Practice for the Storage and Handling of Workplace Dangerous Goods can be found here. http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/249/CodeOfPracticeStorageAndHandingDangerousGoodsNOHSC2017-2001_PDF.pdf

QUEENSLAND

Worksafe Queensland service station safety guidelines -https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/hazardous-chemicals/specific-hazchem-workplaces/service-stations
Brisbane guidelines for storage and dispensing of petroleum products – http://eplan.brisbane.qld.gov.au/CP/StorePetroleumPSP

NEW SOUTH WALES

NSW – Bunding and spills management information – http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/mao/bundingspill.htm

VICTORIA

Worksafe Victoria guidelines for falls prevention when working with above ground fuel storage.
http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/forms-and-publications/forms-and-publications/falls-prevention-above-ground-fuel-tanks

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

New Dangerous Substances (General) Regulations took effect in September 2017. https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/index.aspx?action=legref&type=subordleg&legtitle=Dangerous%20Substances%20(General)%20Regulations%202017

Find Licence and Notice of Installation forms  here https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/show_page.jsp?id=2576

A guide to when you need to install bunding around fuel tanks – http://www.epa.sa.gov.au/files/47717_guide_bunding.pdf

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Worksafe NT dangerous goods storage and transport information. http://www.worksafe.nt.gov.au/LawsAndCompliance/Pages/Dangerous-Goods-Laws.aspx

F.E.S. TANKS – Industry Advice

If you’re confused around what regulations apply in your area, we are here to help.

We have the knowledge you need to choose the right system and ensure it is installed and maintained in full compliance with all relevant legislation. Our range of self-bunded tanks also minimises the risk of leaks and does away with the need for expensive and complicated bunding work.

Fuel Storage Regulations and Compliance

F.E.S. fuel storage tanks are built to exceed Australian and international safety standards to ensure the highest levels of safety and environmental protection while giving you optimum flexibility and storage capacity. You can find out more about our certifications and warranties here – https://www.festanks.com.au/fuel-storage-compliance/

Farming Fuel Issues: An Expert Roundup from the Front Line

Corey Blacksell

Farming and fuel, what are the issues?

WHETHER you’re growing grain in South Australia, raising cattle in Queensland or nurturing organic vegetables in Gippsland, your operation will be using fuel.

It’s essential to power harvesters and generators, keep the fleets moving, transport you around the property and get your product to market.

When we asked industry leaders from diverse backgrounds what were their biggest farm fuel issues, concerns around cost and supply were at the top for farmers and rural communities.

Some had experienced fuel shortages first hand in their district – not what you want at harvest time!
Others were concerned about the ongoing uncertainty over rebates.

Here’s what they had to say.

Corey Blacksell | Blacksell Farms (SA)

Agriculture Sector: Cereals and Grains

Personal Profile: Corey Blacksell

Business: Blacksell Farms

Corey Blacksell
Image credit: Alistair Lawson, Agcommunicators

Corey farms nearly 5000 hectares of mostly cereals at Pinnaroo, in the South Australian Mallee district. He owns Blacksell Farms and is principal of Blacksell Agribusiness Solutions.

The biggest risk we face is not being able to get fuel at the peak times when we need it – I see fuel security as a big risk.

The risk is because we import our fuel, there’s not a lot of stuff sitting at port in Adelaide at any one time.

I aim to have 30,000-40,000 litres sitting on the farm as we start the harvest. Security on the farm is also getting to be a big issue – I have a box of security cameras ready to go up to tackle that one.


Alastair Rayner (NSW)Alastair-Rayner

Agriculture Sector: Beef and Cattle Livestock

Personal Profile: Alistair Rayner

Business: Rayner Ag

Alastair Rayner is a cattle man at heart and is the principal of RaynerAg. He has been committed to the beef industry for 20 years, including 17 years as a Livestock Officer (Beef Products) with NSW DPI.

Alastair is well known for his passion and enthusiasm in working with producers to increase their skills, knowledge and profits.

The two big things I hear about are cost and being able to access fuel.

Farm theft is one of the big things that is impacting a lot of people, and with on-farm storage it’s often very difficult for people to see if they’ve been victims of fuel theft.

A few months ago there was a big incident where people broke into a place at Moree and poured about $10,000 of diesel down the drain.

The big cropping operations that are doing a lot of work and need to have a lot of fuel on hand are pretty exposed.

The cost of bringing fuel on to farms and the cost of purchase adds up too – it’s one of the biggest variables in farming operations. Fuel rebates are really important to keep costs down.

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Tanya Cameron (NSW)

Agriculture Sector: Beef and Cattle Farmer

Personal Profile: Tanya Cameron

Business: Country Womens Association (President of the CWA of NSW)

tanya cameron
Image Credit: Nick Moir

Tanya is President of the Country Women’s Association of NSW, which supports and advocates for people on the land and has about 10,000 members in NSW and the ACT.

She lives at Rowena in the state’s north-west (population about 20) where she and her husband run 200-300 head of cattle, and as well as lobbying on rural issues writes a regular blog about her experiences.

For us it mostly comes down to price. Any increase in the cost of inputs has a huge impact on our bottom line.

The rumours about removing the rebate on fuel were extremely concerning and just add more uncertainty to our lives – the removal of the rebate of 38 or 39 cents in the dollar, when you are talking tens of thousands of litres per load, will create a significant deficit in any farm budget, and there are usually more than just one or two loads per year.

These price concerns do not only apply to farmers either. Rural communities in general struggle with higher prices, generally on lower incomes, due to the added transport costs of road freight, and often there is no point in ‘shopping around’.

The price on the sign of the one and only servo in town is not going to change in the time it takes to drive around the block!


Grain Growers (National Organisation)

Agriculture Sector: Grain

Business Profile: Grain Growers

grain growers organisation

Grain Growers has 17,500 members and is an independent grain producer organisation. Its national policy group is made up of 15 growers from three major grain growing regions in Australia – Queensland and Northern NSW, Southern NSW and Victoria and South Australia and Western Australia.

GrainGrowers believe the biggest issue around the use of fuel/diesel on farms is the cost. Fuel, despite the fuel excise rebate, is one of the largest cost inputs into farming.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) conduct surveys into the economic performances of Australian farms, which includes information on farm receipts, costs and financial performance (including details on fuel costs). The surveys can be found here.

Another concern for grain farmers is fuel security. In December 2012 large areas of regional Victoria ran out of diesel fuel after a problem at the Shell refinery in Geelong.
With the closing of several fuel refineries across Australia in the last few years Australia is almost completely reliant on refined fuel from Singapore and other locations. NRMA commissioned a detailed report into Australia’s fuel security in 2013 which outlines this issue in more detail.

The on-farm storage and workplace health and safety requirements of fuel is an ongoing issue for farmers but not as crucial as the cost.

It’s in the farmers best interests to ensure that not only is their fuel stored safely but effectively as well.

Problems with storage (fuel evaporation, water contamination, leaking tanks and using old fuel) can add dramatically to the cost of farm operations.


Margareta Osborn (Victoria)Margareta Osborn

Agriculture Sector: Beef and Livestock

Personal Profile: Margareta Osborn

Business: Author, farmer, wife & mother

Margareta Osborn is a fifth-generation farmer, wife, mother and lover of all things country. She is a writer of best-selling rural romance novels. She holds a Diploma of Conservation and Land Management specialising in community facilitation. Home is a beef property overlooking a beautiful lake in the Gippsland high country.

Cost is a very big issue. As we are only small we are not eligible for any assistance (rebates), and if anything happens to go wrong with supply to our local roadhouse, it causes insurrection.


Matthew Arkinstall (Qld)Matthew Arkinstall

Agriculture Sector: Beef and Livestock

Personal Profile: Matthew Arkinstall

Business: Rathdowney

Matthew and his family farm a couple of hundred Blonde D’Aquitaine beef cattle on about 400 acres at Rathdowney, in Queensland’s Scenic Rim region.

Cost and risk of theft are the main issues. We went from on-farm bowser to jerry can for a few years. 

A Farmers Guide to Farm Security Cameras

farm security cameras collage

Farm Security Camera Systems – Things to consider

When it comes to farm security, the stakes are high.

Farm crime – particularly theft of stock, fuel and machinery – is increasing in Australia, and more than three quarters of farmers report having been victims over the past 10 years. Rural police say one of the most effective solutions is farm surveillance using security cameras, which have produced images vital to successful prosecutions over recent years.

Deciding to install a security cameras on your farm is a no-brainer if you’ve been a victim of theft – but which camera should you buy and what are the essential considerations within a rural setting? Read on…..

farm security cameras collage

How do they work?

Remote outdoor security cameras consist of a camera and motion sensor in a weatherproof case.

Modern security cameras are small and are perfect for the farming and agriculture industry. They come in a variety of sizes, but as an average are around 10cm x 15cm x 5cm – and run on AA batteries or can be connected to a small solar panel.

They don’t require any wiring and can be mounted anywhere (although it’s advisable not to mount them where there’ll be too much movement, for example on branches that will wave in the wind).

When the camera senses movement (humans, vehicles or animals) it takes a photo or video. Images can be taken even in total darkness using infra-red LEDs.

Images are either stored on an SD card for download when you visit the site, or in areas with 3G coverage can be beamed instantly to your phone.

Choosing the best farm security camera for your purpose

The best starting point is clearly defining your purpose – what problem are you hoping to address by installing your farm security camera?

This will inform decisions about position, camera size and whether you’re looking for higher resolution images or a faster reaction time.

You’ll also need to consider where you’ll be mounting your cameras – do you want them visible as a deterrent, or hidden to secretly monitor activity?

Farm security hot spots – it’s all about location, location, location

Farm security cameras can serve a variety of purposes, from monitoring for intruders to protecting fuel storage and water supplies to monitoring employees and even livestock movements.

Commonly, farmers might install cameras near gates to monitor people entering and exiting the property, and around equipment and fuel storage areas.

If you’re concerned about trespassers or vandals damaging fences and allowing stock to escape, consider monitoring the points in your fence line where you’re most vulnerable.

Trigger time – is your camera a sharp shooter?

If you need the camera to capture moving vehicles, it’s worth paying attention to the trigger time, or how long it takes to snap an image or footage.

vechicle caught on farm security camera

If you’re interested in capturing people and slow moving or parked vehicles, a 1-2 second start-up like the popular ScoutGuard SG55OV8-HD (about 1.3 seconds trigger time) will meet your needs for around $300.

A bonus of this model is its small size – about 13 x 8 x 5cm, and ultra-low power consumption, so a set of AA batteries should last more than 80 days or about 5000 images. The camera will take up to three shots per trigger, or a programmed amount of video (1-60 seconds).

If you need a faster trigger time, for example to capture moving vehicles, a model like the Reconyx HyperFire might be an option, with it’s super-fast 1/5 of a second trigger speed.

The Reconyx, which starts at $680, incorporates rapid-fire technology that can capture up to two frames per second and has a battery life of up to 40,000 images.

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Working on the night moves – low profile cameras for night footage

If things that go bump in the night are your biggest concern, the Uway VH200HD is specifically designed as a black flash camera, so there’ll be no red glow to alert people their image is being taken.

For this reason, the Uway is a popular option for security use in and around sheds, in fuel storage areas and on machinery.

fuel theft caught on farm security camera

With a 1 second trigger speed it’s quick off the mark and produces high quality 8MP photos.

This model can take more than 10,000 images on 12 AA lithium batteries and can also record sound in video mode, with night footage clear to 10m and beyond.

Keeping your finger on the pulse – using cameras for remote farm surveillance

Using cameras to remotely monitor distant locations makes sense on large properties.

The video below was taken on a property in the top end where the camera was set-up near a watering hole to monitor the native animal activity. Great action and activity that was captured with the moment sensors of the camera.

For the record, the owner is pretty sure the crocodile got his lunch as on the left hand side of the screen is just more water.

If you’re considering using a camera for remote farm surveillance in a location where you don’t have regular access to check and change batteries, a solar panel is a good option.

A panel about the size of an iPhone costs around $70 and will keep your camera powered year-round without the need to install or change batteries.

The panels incorporate a built-in battery to ensure they can continue to capture images even after many days of darkness.

Systems that allow you to see footage without visiting the camera site are also becoming increasingly popular, both for use at remote sites (provided there is phone coverage) and for ensuring you know what’s happening in real time.

Cameras like the UwayMB500 can transmit images instantly to your phone by MMS when they detect movement, meaning you become aware of any potential problems sooner.
Providing both the camera and your phone have mobile detection the image will be transmitted in less than one minute, and because they use the mobile network and run on AA batteries they continue to operate even if power and telecommunications cables are cut, providing an effective back-up to other security systems.

TOP TIP: Because these cameras can be set to send an image at a particular time each day, they’re also a great option for monitoring gauges and remote equipment like pumps, meaning you can save big on travelling time.

Weighing the cost

The losses incurred by farm theft, fuel theft and vandalism can be significant – recent single thefts have caused financial losses in the tens of thousands.
With the cost of farm security cameras now as low as $300 per unit, they’re not only recommended by police as an important security tool – they’re an increasingly integral part of responsible farm management.

Join in the conversation – Any thoughts, comments or additional tips and tricks for farm security cameras leave them in the comments below.