A tank farm (also called oil depot, installation or oil terminal) is an industrial facility for the storage of oil and/or petrochemical products and from which these products are usually transported to end users or further storage facilities. A tank farm typically has tankage, either above ground or underground, and gantries for the discharge of products into road tankers or other vehicles (such as barges) or pipelines.
Tank farms are usually situated close to oil refineries or in locations where marine tankers containing products can discharge their cargo. Some depots are attached to pipelines from which they draw their supplies and depots can also be fed by rail, by barge and by road tanker (sometimes known as “bridging”).
Most tank farms have road tankers operating from their grounds and these vehicles transport products to petrol stations or other users.
A tank farm is a comparatively unsophisticated facility in that (in most cases) there is no processing or other transformation on site. The products which reach the depot are in their final form suitable for delivery to customers. In some cases additives may be injected into products in tanks, but there is usually no manufacturing plant on site. Modern depots comprise the same types of tankage, pipelines and gantries as those in the past and although there is a greater degree of automation on site, there have been few significant changes in depot operational activities over time.
One of the key imperatives is Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) and the operators of a tank farm must ensure that products are safely stored and handled. There must be no leakages which could damage the soil or the water table.
Fire protection is a primary consideration, especially for the more flammable products such as petrol (gasoline) and aviation fuel.
Most airports also have their own dedicated oil depots (usually called “fuel farms”) where aviation fuel (Jet A or 100LL) is stored prior to being discharged into aircraft fuel tanks. Fuel is transported from the depot to the aircraft either by road tanker or via a hydrant system.