Farm Fuel Tanks. What are the options?

Need to upgrade your farm fuel tanks?

FUEL storage tanks for farms, they can be as varied as the farms themselves.

Similarly, the type of tank you choose will depend on factors including how much fuel you use, the geographic location of your farm, transport – how expensive it is, how regularly tankers deliver to your area, the size of your property and more.

horse drawn hay maker

We want to give you some insight into the different fuel tanks within the farming and agriculture sector and how they suit different needs. Here are some of the typical options, along with the positives and negatives of each.

Above-ground tanks on a tripod stand

These are best suited to farms with lower fuel usage, as storage is typically 1250 litres to 2000 litres.

collage of above ground tanks for farming


  • In the past many of these tanks were supplied by the oil companies, meaning there was virtually no installation cost. However those days are gone, and the cost of supplying a farm fuel tank now generally falls to the farmer.
  • The good thing about tripod tanks is no electric pumps are needed, because fuel can be dispensed by gravity feed.
  • There’s no need for bunding required because the smaller size tanks falls below environmental legislation for fuel containment.


Access for cleaning, checking and refilling has been the major drawback. The tripod structure and security have also been problems.

  • Traditionally tripod tanks were accessed from the top, which made safety when refilling an issue. Because a driver must have three points of contact when refilling a tank, standing on a ladder while holding a nozzle was no longer an option when workplace health and safety regulations were tightened.
  • To solve this problem many farmers had their tanks converted to bottom loading, and at the same time installed gauges in the form of a piece of clear tubing running down the side of the tank which makes it easy to check fuel levels.
  • Tripod safety: Structural integrity of the tank supports needs to be carefully monitored.
  • Tripod stability: Above ground tanks are not ideal in areas prone to severe weather events like cyclones that could topple the tank or cause erosion leading to structural instability. Tripod stands need to be tied down securely in areas prone to high winds.
  • Security: With fuel theft an ongoing issue for farmers all over Australia, security should be a consideration when choosing a tank. The gravity feed on tripod tanks can make it harder to prevent theft given the ease that fuel flows under the gravity feed system. Deterrent options include a lockable ball valve or external security measures like a secured and monitored enclosure.

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On-Ground tanks

On-ground tanks aren’t limited by a support structure, so space and fuel use are the major limitations on size. Environmental regulations say tanks over 4000 litres need to be protected by some form of bunding in case of leakage or rupture. On-ground tanks can be single wall or self-bunded. They generally take a cylindrical, rectangular or square form.

collage of on ground farm fuel tanks



  • There’s no need to bother with tank stands. Having a larger capacity also means reduced transport costs.
  • With self-bunded tanks there’s no need to spend time and money building a bunding structure. Typically, buying a self-bunded tank works out at about half the cost of using a single-wall tank and building a bund. Fully portable tanks self-bunded tanks are also available in sizes up to 18,000 litres, and can be easily carried to different locations on large properties with the product in them.
  • Security: These tanks also offer a higher level of built-in security. Because they require a pump to dispense the fuel, power to the pump can be switched off when the tank is not in use to stop potential thieves. Tanks can also have a lockable hatch across all access points that can be secured with a heavy padlock when the tank is not in use.
  • Access for cleaning is also simple through built-in man hatches.


Single wall on-ground tanks need to be located within a concrete bund that will contain fuel spills. This means extra work and reduces the portability of the tank. The bund also needs to be maintained and drained after rain to ensure it is capable of carrying the tank’s full capacity in case of a spill.
A pump will be needed to dispense fuel, and this will need access to either a 12V or 240V power source.

Underground tanks

These are an economical option for farms that need an on-site storage capacity of 10,000 litres or more.

underground tank collage



  • For farms that are storing petroleum, underground tanks can save them big dollars because they reduce the loss of fuel as a result of evaporation – a significant problem when storing petrol above ground.
  • Security: Underground storage virtually eliminates fuel theft. The size of underground tanks also means farms can reduce transport costs.


  • When storing diesel, condensation tends to be a bigger issue in underground tanks. To minimise this problem it’s advisable to run the tanks at a minimum 70-80 per cent of capacity, to minimise the air space above the fuel level.
  • It’s particularly important when storing fuel underground to use a water finding paste once a week, so that water collecting below the fuel can be pumped out.
  • Long term storage of diesel fuel can lead to contamination by microbes of fungal bugs. Fuel treatments such as diesel biocides are also an option to help prolong fuel life.

Second-hand fuel storage tanks

It only takes a quick Google search to reveal there’s a market in second-hand fuel storage tanks, and they’re not always a bad option.

We often here of farmers buying second-hand fuel storage tanks from service stations. However, when doing so it’s important to know what’s been stored in it and ensure it is fully cleaned and checked for maintenance issues including rust spots and weaknesses at joins.

Fittings can also deteriorate over time leading to fuel loss, so it’s worth checking and changing these as well.

Just remember second-hand tanks could be 15-20 years old, so you’ve got a lot to maintain and upgrade to bring them up to standard. When you can get a new 1000-litre self-bunded tank from about $3500 it’s worth considering the new option before making a decision.


Hopefully you get an understanding of the types of farm fuel tanks available each with its own pros and cons. As well as that you also get a variety of sizes and configurations for each tank type so it is very much dependent on your personal requirements. With that please get in touch so as we can inform you on a best situation for your needs and get you up and running as soon as possible.

Fuel Theft on Farms. How to Boost your Farm Security

Fuel theft on farms – Stealing from the hand that feeds us

ASK an Australian farmer their biggest fuel-related issue and it will always be the price of fuel. Dig a little deeper and it won’t be too long before fuel theft comes up in conversation. Farmers accept wholesale fuel prices are beyond their control. Bring up the matter of fuel theft and you start to understand that this is far more personal.

burgular stealing fuel from farm

Cases of theft within the farming and agriculture sector continues to make the news, and research released by the University of New England this year shows more than one in five farmers have first-hand experience of the problem.

rates of reported crime on australian farms statistics 2014

Rural police say crop farms are a particularly attractive target for fuel thieves at harvest and seeding times.

The thefts can not only cost thousands, but mean losing valuable time if the problem is discovered too late.

Machinery like harvesters parked in remote locations is particularly at risk, with thieves draining tanks and costing farmers thousands.

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Farm fuel theft – A nationwide problem

It’s an issue that affects rural residents across state and industry boundaries.

At Buloke in north-west Victoria, thieves stole $2000 of fuel from council machinery in the 12 months to May this year while crews were working in remote locations across the 8000 square kilometre shire.

In June police in Dalby, Queensland urged property owners to consider tightening security with measures including cameras after a prime mover, the attached 25,000-litre tank and $4000 of fuel were stolen from a property while the owners weren’t home.

In October, South Australian Police reported an increase in farm fuel theft and urged farm owners to lock or secure tanks and equipment and check fuel levels regularly.

For many rural landholders, much of the problem stems from the sheer area involved – it’s hard to stop unlawful entry on large properties.

Add to that social change, with more absentee farmers and a more transient population in rural areas meaning communities are less connected, and the UNE’s Dr Elaine Barclay says many just give up on finding a solution.

“Fuel theft is a huge problem since the price of fuel went up,” she says.

“Some farmers won’t stock fuel on their farms any more, which is frustrating.”

Dr Barclay says her most recent survey of 3160 farmers in NSW and Queensland shows fuel theft tends to happen at times like harvesting or seeding, when larger on-farm fuel stores are needed – and when thefts can cost the most in lost time and productivity.

“How do you lock up a farm?

“A lot of the time they don’t think it’s serious enough to report to police, they don’t want to bother police or they don’t have enough evidence to prove a crime has taken place.”

Dr Barclay’s research shows about 74 per cent of farmers had experienced some type of rural crime over the past 12 years, with only about half of those crimes being reported. She says rural watch programs, bringing communities together to fight crime, are less effective as communities fragment.

“There’s been massive social change – you have more hobby farmers moving in, particularly in places like Armidale, where I’m based.

“Where you have smaller, tighter, longstanding communities, that is the best form of crime prevention.”

Farmers have also fought fuel theft by filling storage tanks with water to catch out unwitting thieves, and by being vigilant about measures like returning machinery to the main sheds at night – often a major logistical problem in itself for larger properties.

The full report on Crime on Farms 2001-2014 can be downloaded here

Farm security innovations – preventing fuel theft

Fortunately, Australians are an innovative lot, and farmers have worked to tackle the problem with everything from home engineered locking systems to state-of-the-art fuel monitoring technology.

Fuel Cap Locks

In Buloke, a local engineering firm came up with fuel cap locks for council equipment that are also showing promise as a potential solution for local farmers.

fuel cap locks for buloke council


Not Australian, but still an innovative product in relation to trying to prevent fuel theft with a simply fuel cap. The Tanklock anti-theft fuel locking device is perfect for tractors, harvesting equipment, excavators, backhoes and other heavy machinery that may be left overnight on isolated sites.

The Tanklock defies convention because the cap itself has the ability to free-spin when locked. The free-spinning motion of the cap effectively offers no resistance points and thus no torque points for which to apply spanners, crow bars, jemmy bars or grips.

Farm Gate Security Sensor 

Victorian company It’s Secure offers a shaft alarm with GPS which is ideal for mounting on remote gates and fences where machinery and fuel are being stored, providing there is 3G or 4G coverage.

shaft alarm

The alarms are mounted using magnetic clips that can be easily moved each day, and are powered by a lithium battery which can last up to three years.

They’re armed by text message and controlled remotely.

Farm Security Cameras

Cameras are also increasingly popular.

Entrepreneur Damien Byrne owns Outdoor Cameras Australia and hears stories of theft due to farm security failures every day.

“Most of it is fuel and machinery, and when it happens it is very costly,” he says.

“Even the fuel thefts aren’t just small amounts, they’re usually thousands of dollars’ worth.

“I think $5000 would be a good average amount that people lose, but a lot of it would not get reported, so it has been difficult to estimate.”

fuel theft still image at night

Damien says cameras have been proven to make a difference, and police agree.

Queensland police continue to urge farmers storing fuel to not only keep a close watch on levels but to install cameras to monitor and help prosecute thieves.

They cite a successful prosecution in August this year after a 25-year-old man was caught on camera stealing more than 1000 litres of diesel from a farm near Toowoomba.

Damien says the example is one of many, with diesel fuel and machinery theft among major reasons given by rural clients for their camera purchase.

The equipment is portable, weatherproof and simple to set up and attach to an existing structure, and can run on batteries for months at a time or even miniature solar panels in more remote areas where changing batteries could be an issue.

“Our units are small and very easy to handle and there’s no wiring required and no poles need to be erected,” he says.

“They operate on a motion sensor and they also have blackflash so intruders won’t be aware their photographs are being taken or their actions recorded from up to 10m away.”

Popular models include the UWay, which can take high quality 5MP images and high definition video and can carry a maximum 32GB of storage.

The camera can take about 5000 images on one SD card and operate continuously with a solar panel attachment. Prices start at around $500. Well worth the price as this would easily offset the loss in value of most thefts on a farm. Not only that, but think of that fist pump moment when your camera catches the intruders red handed.

uway-vh200hd security camera, black and camouflaged

Refer to our Beginners Guide to Farm Security Cameras here

Start protecting your equipment and property day and night

Outdoor Security Cameras

Set and forget.

Get back to doing the work you need to do rather than looking over your shoulder

Underground Tanks

The type of fuel storage tank on your farm will very much determine what level of security you should expect. The variety of farm storage tanks apart from shapes and sizes, extend to above-ground tanks, on-ground tanks and underground tanks. Craig Cygler, from Nqpetro, says using underground tanks for storage vastly improved security for farms that store large amounts of fuel.

He says modern storage tank designs are also making theft harder with features like lockable hatches that prevented access to the valves. Refer to this extensive guide on farm fuel tanks to understand the pros and cons of each type.

He also recommended anti-theft cap locks (as mentioned above) for farm equipment, particularly where it will be parked in remote locations.

Where to put your farm fuel tanks?

Police recommend a number of simple measures to prevent theft. The first is taking simple precautions when deciding the location of tanks.

The most secure location for a tank is underground, however this might not be practical for many properties.

When positioning above-ground tanks convenience is important, but not if it makes it too easy for thieves. Tanks should be located away from main roads and where possible where they can be seen from the house. Keep the area around the tanks clear of equipment and other obstructions to ensure clear visibility and minimise hiding places.

On large properties, where tanks are needed to service isolated areas, it’s important to locate them out of sight of a public road and keep them locked. Consider only filling remote tanks when they are in regular use, such as at sowing or harvest time.

Mobile tanks should also be locked and stored out of sight when not in use.

It’s a good idea to fence the area around fuel tanks. One recommendation is to locate them near machinery storage sheds and fencing the entire area with good quality lockable security fencing.

Other fuel security measures

The WA Police recommend other key measures including:

  • Lock your fuel tank cut-off valve rather than the nozzle and hose. If there is an electric pump on the tank locate the switch in a locked building and turn the power off when the tank is not in use.Close and lock all valve on all on-ground and overhead tanks when not in use.
  • Dip tanks regularly and monitor fuel usage so you know quickly if there is an unexplained loss. Install a flow meter to supervise fuel use.
  • Keep a book at the tank for each user to record fuel usage, or investigate an automated fuel management system.
  • Lock gates that aren’t being used. Research suggests more than 90 per cent of farm gates are unlocked or unlockable, offering an invitation to opportunistic thieves.
  • Talk to your neighbours. Let them know if you plan to be away for a while, and tell the local police so they can also keep an eye on your property.

If you experience a theft

If the problem persists despite your best efforts to boost security, Police are urging communities to work together with them to take action. New England region Local Area Commander Fred Trench says reporting the crime helps everyone.

“Farmers need to report crimes or theft so we can look at how we can better address these problems from a local perspective,” he said.

“Given that these crimes may pose a threat to the personal safety of farmers and their families, not to mention high cost to local economies, it is essential to continue to raise awareness about rural crime and look at allocating the necessary resources to combat it.”

You should also tell your fuel agent and make sure you have accurate information about when and where your farm fuel tanks are refilled.

If you have been personally affected by theft on a farm, please let us know in the comments box below as it would be good to understand your thoughts.

If you should have any concerns or questions on how to boost your fuel security around the farm, get in touch. We will make a difference.

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Biofuel Industry in Australia

Biofuels, a fuel of the future

ANOTHER Australian state has leapt on the biofuels train, with the Queensland government this month introducing legislation to set mandatory targets from July 2016.

biodiesel storage and refuelling

The new laws, which follow NSW legislation enacted in 2007, mean that from January 1 next year retailers will have to report on how much biofuel they have sold as a percentage of total sales.

From July 1 they will need to meet mandatory targets of a minimum 2 per cent for ethanol-petrol blends and 0.5 per cent for biodiesel.

“This will support the development of a sustainable biofuels industry that can help Queensland transition to a clean energy economy, contribute to regional growth and job creation and promote the development of an advanced bio-manufacturing industry,” Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark Bailey told parliament.

The Department of Energy and Water Services says about 345 Queensland petrol stations already sell ethanol blends, while the use of diesel statewide is growing by 9.3 per cent per year.


There’s not yet any measure of biodiesel usage. Up to 5 per cent biodiesel can be blended with regular diesel and this B5 blend is already sold by several major fuel chains and does not need to be labelled, as all diesel sold must meet the national Diesel Fuel Standard.

Industry response

High profile businessmen like Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson have supported the move to biofuels and continue to urge further investment in the industry – and in Branson’s case, put their money where their mouth is – but for retailers and suppliers reporting costs and storage issues are among their concerns.

Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association chief executive Mark Mckenzie said a major concern was that any retailers who sell upwards of one million litres of petrol products each year will be liable, meaning smaller businesses will bear the costs of changing storage and dispensing infrastructure.

“While economic benefits would potentially be realised by some agricultural businesses, these would be more than offset by the fact that regional communities will likely be required to pay higher prices for fuel as regional fuel businesses seek to recover the cost of increased investment in fuel storage and dispensing infrastructure,” he said.

Biodiesel fuel – benefits and drawbacks

Canola field

Biodiesel can be made from a variety of stocks including vegetable oils like soy and canola, tropical seeds and animal fats.

It is made by separating the glycerine molecule from the oil or fat through a process called transesterification.

biofuel creation process chart

One benefit for storage is that Biodiesel has a higher flashpoint than petroleum diesel, with a flashpoint of around 150 C or higher compared to 52 C for petroleum diesel.

This stability makes it particularly attractive for sectors like the underground mining industry, where the implications for workplace safety are hard to ignore.

International research also shows plenty of positives as far as public health and emissions reduction. Diesel emissions are a growing concern and with diesel use in Australia on the rise, governments in every state are keen to increase the biodiesel component to reduce toxic air pollutants.

On the flipside, the different molecular structure of biodiesel fuel can make it more susceptible to a range of quality issues.

The good news is that proper storage and treatment from the start can make all the difference.

Storage problems

Good quality biodiesel can degrade quickly without proper care during transport and distribution, meaning a failure of storage systems can have significant implications for retailers, distributors and the end buyer.

On the upside, the ability to degrade quickly means the environmental threat is lower in case of spills, and clean-up is easier.
The downside is that issues like storage temperature and exposure to light are important. Biodiesel can gel and become sluggish at higher temperatures than petrodiesel, with some varieties more affected than others.

In general, pure biodiesel made from vegetable oil can safely be stored at 7-10 C. In cold climates, underground tanks can help insulate and prevent gelling.
Above-ground tanks may need to be heated or insulated in particularly harsh environments.

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Store biodiesel away from air and light

One of the major influences on biodiesel storage life is exposure to oxygen and light. While these issues are minimal for diesel blends that remain mostly petroleum-based, it’s worth being aware of them if you plan to use purer blends.

Because it’s made from vegetable or animal fat, biodiesel in its purer forms is much more susceptible to breakdown and degradation due to oxygen exposure. Fuels made from vegetable oils tend to oxidise and degrade more quickly than those made from animal fats.

This leads to acids forming, thickening of the fuel, sedimentation and the potential corrosion of storage tanks and parts. Any process that removes the natural oxidants from the oil – including bleaching, deodorising and distilling – will speed up this oxidation process.

Tanks designed to store and transport petro-diesel can usually store biodiesel with no problem, providing they have been fully cleaned.

Biodiesel will break down any sediment remaining in the tank, creating sludge in the fuel.

Tanks made from or held together with copper, brass, lead, tin or zinc will react with biofuel to speed up the oxidation process, so it’s best to avoid these materials.

Recommended storage tanks to extend fuel life include those made from aluminium, steel, polyethylene, Teflon and most fibreglass.

Adding a stability agent is also recommended in climates like Australia’s if the fuel is to be stored for longer than a few months.

B100 (100 per cent biodiesel) can also degrade some hoses, gaskets and seals, glues and plastics. Hoses should be made from Teflon or nylon to avoid potential issues. It’s a good idea to ask your supplier if the equipment is suitable for pure biodiesel or high biodiesel blends.

Blends of 20 per cent or less are far less likely to have an effect, but regular monitoring of hoses and gaskets is recommended in line with industry best practice.

Microbial contamination and water

All diesel can be affected by microbial contamination, and biofuel is a favourite food of micro-organisms.

Microbes usually need water and nitrogen to flourish.

Biodiesel can absorb large amounts of water – up to 1500 parts per million- and after that limit the excess remains as free water which causes rust and allows microbes free rein.

Water contamination in tanks can reduce the fuel’s usable storage life dramatically, and while a biocide might kill the microbes it could be too late to save the fuel. The dissolved water can also cause problems over time and lead to acids forming in the fuel, which can corrode tanks – an avoidable cost with the right tanks and proper care.

To minimise water issues storage tanks should be cleaned and dried before they are used for biodiesel.

Experts like the University of Idaho’s Jon van Gerpen recommend keeping the smallest possible air space above the fuel. About 2 per cent is recommended to allow for thermal expansion.
Draining free water from the tanks regularly is recommended. It’s worth considering this when looking for tanks, and choosing one with easy access for testing, refilling and maintenance.

Too much space can allow the biodiesel to accumulate more water from the air. Wherever possible, the fuel should be stored in full tanks with an airtight seal.

Using a biocide and a stability agent can also provide a second line of defence against contamination and block the chain reactions that cause degradation. The best option, though, is to use fuel quickly – within a few months.

Weighing it up

All in all, the expert consensus is that while storing and transporting biodiesel might mean some checks and changes, there are also long-term advantages across industries and markets.

If you need to store fuel for long periods a bio blend may not be your best option, but with states around Australia increasingly seeking to implement mandatory targets, and major oil companies taking on the challenge, it’s worth asking your supplier and planning now to ensure the smoothest possible transition when the time comes.

Top 5 Advantages of Fuel Tank Hire & Leasing

Why You Should Consider Fuel Tank Hire & Leasing

In any expanding project or times of business growth, outlay and capital can be two major hurdles that often need to be overcome while meeting increased demands and need for infrastructure.

fuel storage tanks - hire or buy

Whether its covering the cost of implementing these systems or buying new equipment, investment is often required. Hiring and leasing can provide a great alternative to traditional purchasing that allows you to adjust to these changes in demand while minimizing purchasing and maintenance costs.

Why hire fuel storage?

Hiring and leasing is a flexible option for fuel storage that allows you to reduce your outlay to a monthly payment. In fact the cost of the fuel tank hire can be factored into your ongoing fuel purchases so it can be indexed to a fixed price per litre.

Whether it’s a short-term solution to cover some immediate fuel storage demand, such as a tank failure, or a long-term way of supplementing existing infrastructure to handle issues like seasonal variance and peak-demand.

Hiring and leasing fuel storage is a way of ramping up your fuel supply when its necessary and adding additional equipment as needed.

You can always purchase when you have a clearer picture of your needs. We run through our top 5 benefits of hiring below.

Minimal Initial Outlay

Hire and lease agreements are a great way of providing the means to cover immediate demand needs without a high amount of initial investment or cash-flow. Also, our fuel management and storage systems can be upgraded and the size of your leased equipment changed as your business does.

This flexibility can be very useful for businesses that want to test the waters before making a purchasing decision as it allows you to test or trial a system, and see how it performs on-site.

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Easy Set-Up & Maintenance

Providing all the benefits of a self-bunded system, that is a tank within a tank, these systems have a minimal on-site footprint and require no major external construction for safety compliance. You can read about the benefits of self-bunded tank design here.

All tanks come with a certified maintenance document to ensure fully operational for immediate use on site.

Our tanks also provide many features for easy maintenance, such as dual-manways for inspection and cleaning, a protective anti-corrosion coating and are fully certified for compliance with all Australian safety standards and regulations.

Relocatable & Convenient

Set up of our self-bunded tanks is as easy as dropping them on-site.

Whether the project is accessed by land, sea or air – hire tanks can be a great way of providing immediate access to fuel in remote areas, off-site projects and any situation where a long-term fuel storage solution may not be financially viable.

Add-ons for Fuel Management & Security

F.E.S. TANKS have a full range of dispensing equipment that can give your hired fuel tank all the capabilities of a refuelling station, and our fuel management systems mean you can even monitor and measure metrics like fuel consumption to help with accounting and budgeting.

Dispensing equipment allows your fuel storage to act as a refuelling station – your fleet vehicles and equipment can be refuelled directly from your hired storage tank.

Worried about fuel theft and security of your hire tank? We can also provide security solutions for your hired tank, such as user-account access, that make fuel theft virtually impossible.

Free Consultancy

F.E.S. TANKS consultants have years of experience in both fuel supply and distribution – and it’s all available to our customers free of charge.

Regardless of whether the decision is made to rent or buy – we ensure that you get the right system for your needs, and are happy to provide quotes free of charge.

Not only do our staff help you stay on top of all the technical stuff, like current regulations and compliance issues for your equipment, but we can also help you figure out a combination of lease and purchasing that fits your needs perfectly.

Oil Refining and Australia’s Market

Oil Refining & Australia’s Market | An animated infographic

How is crude oil refined? What are the products it produces? Where does Australia sit in its ability to process crude oil? Not just now but in the future? Please view our animated infographic by clicking on the image below or click here to get the answers.

oil refining infographic
Crude oil, in its raw natural form, must undergo refinement to make it useful for consumers. An oil refinery separates, converts, and purifies the components of crude oil into valuable petrochemicals. Many products, from propane to petrol to bitumen, can come from just one barrel of crude oil through refining. Australian oil refineries were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s. Together, they have a refining capacity of approximately half a million barrels per day. Let’s look at the fundamental processes in an oil refining setup, and learn more about Australia’s role in the global oil industry.

Types of Crude Oil

The composition of crude oil varies greatly between different natural sources. The two most important factors for profiling crude oil are its density and its sulfur content.
Oil that is less dense is referred to as “light,” whereas denser oil is classified as “heavy.” Oil with high sulfur content is called “sour,” as opposed to “sweet” oil which contains less sulfur.
As hevay oil requires more refining than light oil to yield useful products, light oil is valued higher than heavy oil. For the same reason, oil that is sweet is more valuable than oil that is sour.
Most of the crude oil found in Australia is premium crude; light and sweet.

One typical barrel of crude oil might yield:*

  • 70 litres of petrol
  • 34 litres of diesel
  • 15 litres of jet fuel
  • 7 litres of propane / butane
  • 7 litres of heavy fuel oil
  • 7 litres of refinery fuel gas
  • 7 litres of coke
  • 5 litres of bitumen
  • 4 litres of petrochemical feedstock**
  • 2 litres of lubricants

*Total litres exceed the volume of one barrel due to the lower density of refined products.
**Raw materials used for conversion into other products used in science and industry.

Oil Refinery

Like other industrial plants, the typical oil refinery is a large-scale operation, taking place in vast complexes with equipment the size of office buildings. Many refineries are designed to operate continuously for months at a time. The specific layout and equipment of a refinery varies greatly, and depends on both the quality of the crude oil being refined, and the market for different refined products.

Cost to build an efficiently-scaled refinery: $6.5 billion


Crude Oil is made up mostly of hydrocarbons- compounds consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons are categorized by their molecular shape and the number of carbon atoms present in the molecule. The simplest hydrocarbon is methane, with one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. Generally, the greater the number of carbon atoms in a hydrocarbon, the higher its boiling point. This is one of the key principles applied in oil refining.


Crude oil contains a variety of hydrocarbons that have different boiling points. To separate these compounds, the oil is first sent to a boiler where it is heated into a super-hot mixture of liquid and vapour called the feed. The mixture is then fed into a distillation tower. In here, the compounds with a lower boiling point rise up as vapours, while the compounds with a higher boiling point fall downwards as liquids. The tower contains trays that allow the vapour to bubble upward through the liquid, helping to exchange heat and resulting in more effective separation.


Heavy, high-boiling fractions, composed of larger hydrocarbon molecules, are often less desirable than the lighter fractions composed of smaller molecules. For this reason, some of the heavier fractions are sent to cracking units that break down the hydrocarbons into smaller components. One widely-used method, known as Fluidized Catalytic Cracking (FCC), works by exposing the oil to extreme heat and a finely powdered catalyst, which breaks apart the molecules. The heated feed and catalyst are combined in the riser. The reactor then separates the catalyst from the newly cracked product, which may be sent back for re-distillation. Meanwhile, the catalyst is cleaned and recycled in the regenerator.


The distilled product may still contain undesirable elements, the most important of which is sulfur. Fuels containing sulfur, when burned, produce pungent sulfur dioxide. Hydrotreating removes sulfur by exposing the product to hydrogen gas as well as extreme heat and a catalyst. The hydrogen atoms bond with the sulfur, converting it into hydrogen sulfide. This hydrogen sulphide gas can then be removed via re-distillation. In this example, the organosulfur compound propanethiol (C₃H₈S) is being converted into cleaner-burning propane (C₃H₈).

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In addition to fuels, lubricants, and bitumen, countless other products are made from chemicals derived from oil refining:
Cosmetics, Plastic bags, Electronics, Golf balls, Detergetns, Tyres, House paint, Diving suits, Plastic bottles, Hot air balloons, Water and sewage pipes, Rain boots, Nappies, Optical media

Australia’s Market

With a refining capacity of 146,000 barrels per day, The Kwinana Refinery is the largest oil refinery in Australia. The largest refineries in Asia, however, can process between 600,000 and 1,200,000 barrels per day. Due to the competitive advantage of Asian oil refineries, Australia’s oil refining market is in steep decline. Since 2003, 3 out of 8 Australian refineries have been de-commissioned, with a another due for de-commissioning in mid-2015. Australia now imports most of its refined products from Singapore, South Korea, and Japan.

Australia’s Future

Australia’s dependence on imports of refined products, crude oil and other refinery feedstock (ORF) has increased significantly over the last 30 years.
In 1986-87, imports of crude oil and ORF equalled 24% of domestic consumption. Today, this proportion is over 80%.
Since 2009, Australia has been the only country within the International Energy Agency without enough oil in storage to cover net demand for 3 months. In 2014, Australia had just 59 days of backup supplies.

Unless we upgrade our refining capacity or cut down our demand for petroleum products, Australia may be 100% dependent on overseas refining by as early as 2030.

Original source infographic: Oil Refining and Australia’s Market

Longreach Council Depot – Fuel Dispensing Upgrade

Longreach Council Depot – Fuel Dispensing Upgrade

Recently we did a site installation of a GrandeX68 self bunded tank for Longreach Council in Queensland, Australia. They were desperate for a refuelling solution that would allow them greater speed and flexibility within the depot for refuelling machinery & trucks. The other requirement was full Australian standards compliance on the equipment and minimal disruption to existing operations during the installation phase. One of the biggest caveats around this was the need for MINIMAL building work.

The end product speaks for itself. It was a straight forward job with a satisfied customer at the end of the job.

We captured a great video of the installation team on route to the job.

The F.E.S. TANKS Convoy consisted of:

  • Puma Energy fuel delivery truck 120,000l capacity approx..
  • Semi-trailer with 67,120 safe fill level fuel storage tank.
  • Support vehicles and installation crew.

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What we hope it shows is the sense of size with our units and the massive capacity these tanks can hold.

self bunded tank seating

Bunded tank High Mast system

self bunded tank and puma energy refuelling truck

grandex68 self bunded tank longreach council depot

Make no mistake these are big commercial units that deliver big commercial efficiencies once installed.

PayPal Payments at the Pumps; Coming to Australia

paypal at the pumps

Fuel Pump Paypal Payments in Australia; only a matter of time.

In the UK, Shell has partnered with PayPal with plans to be the first fuel retailer in the UK to offer a mobile payment solution at fuel dispensers. With the trial introduction of this system it is only a matter of time before we see this being trialed in Australia as well.

paypal at the pumps

Shell, one of the largest multinational oil and gas companies and single brand fuel retailers in the world combined with Paypal, an e-commerce payment platform that has been at the forefront of payment gateway technology for years, will ensure this technology and trial will succeed.

What this will do is bring another level of convenience that will help the consumer fill up and pay even faster. This will also drive additional revenue streams for PayPal and possibly the Shell forecourts as convenience leads to customer satisfaction and quicker customer turnaround.

So how does the system work?

“Consumers will be able to use the service through either the Shell Motorist App or the PayPal App in a few easy steps. After driving into the forecourt the customer simply selects the corresponding pump on the app. The app then authenticates the transaction and the customer can then fill up and go. When refuelling is complete a receipt is automatically sent through to the phone, letting the consumer drive away, safe in the knowledge the transaction was a success.”

The principle works like this.

Simply pull up to the pump.
Open the app, and enter your code.
Then scan the QR code, or enter the pump ID. That’s it!
No more queuing behind weekly shoppers. No more leaving the kids behind when you pay.
Just Fill Up & Go.
And they send you an electronic receipt.
Leaving you to get on with your busy life.

Great concept. Surely only a matter of time before we see it in Australia?


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