Defining the Risk
Know your fuel. Do you know what is in your tank? If not,
then you likely have a problem. Consider the fact that studies show the
majority of fuel delivered to end users to
be out of spec, containing large
amounts of contaminants. As a result the first step is to assess the fuel. Fuel
sampling and testing will determine the quality and set a baseline for further
action. One of the most helpful tools a fuel owner can have is a fuel sampler. Without
a proper bottom sample, it is virtually impossible to determine the quality of
fuel in a tank. Open style dippers are
inadequate at pulling acceptable bottom samples. The best samples are taken
closest to the STP (submerged turbine pump) or suction stem where it is likely
to have a higher concentration of contaminants.
A visual test allows a first look at the quality of the
fuel. If the fuel is dark and highly contaminated it will be obvious. If it is clear, don’t be fooled, contamination
can come in different forms. Other testing should be a regular part of defining
the risk. Using Dixon field test kits can provide a more sufficient representation.
Testing for water content, microbes, acid content and cross-contamination help
to identify potential problems. Periodic lab testing for total fuel quality
cannot be ignored. As fuel ages, it declines. Signs of aging may not be visibly
noticeable so testing should be completed. Once samples are taken and testing done,
defining the risk is more easily accomplished. If the fuel shows signs of
decline a decision needs to be made on next steps.
Risks are always present. Operational risks are increased
when fuel is not managed. Downtime and losses will occur due to negligence.
Ignoring FQM results in increased operational risk. Reputational risk is also a
potential. If fuel quality is not at the forefront of the maintenance program,
a loss of reputation is likely. There are also health and safety risks
associated with managing fuel. Poor quality fuel supplies to retail, healthcare
facilities, emergency management or any other sector can result in health and safety
risks. All of these can be limited or avoided with a management program in
place. Value risk is also possible. This is the financial risk taken by those
who choose to ignore FQM. Fuel left unchecked and unmanaged is a financial