Fuel Management

Fleet Project Management: Constructing a Fueling Facility

June 2012, Government Fleet - Feature

by Steve Riley

Analyze whether an above-ground or underground storage tank is best. Pictured is an OPW FlexWorks Loop System underground fuel delivery system.
Analyze whether an above-ground or underground storage tank is best. Pictured is an OPW FlexWorks Loop System underground fuel delivery system.

At a Glance

A few factors to consider when constructing a fleet fueling facility are:

  • Choose a location that reduces driving time for most drivers.
  • Know and follow environmental regulatory requirements.
  • Decide between an underground or above-ground tank.
  • Determine which type of fuel to dispense.
  • Calculate the ongoing costs associated with maintaining fuel facility.

Just like any other major capital-­intensive project, constructing a fleet fueling facility requires substantial preparation. At the same time, there are considerations specifically related to this type of project, from selecting the location to addressing environmental considerations, to deciding the type of fuel to dispense. This article, part two of a three-part series of articles about project management, addresses factors fleet managers should consider when planning the construction of a fuel facility.

Choosing Site Location & Size

Like they say in the business world, “It’s all about location, location, location!” When evaluating possible sites for a future fuel station, there are many important factors to consider. Simply choosing the least costly location may not make good business sense in the long term. A well-planned fuel station can not only make good operational sense by reducing the driving time between sites, but also significantly cutting down fuel costs.

Nearly all government fleets include large trucks that get poor fuel mileage. Very large trucks (such as waste haulers, sewer jet trucks, and fire apparatuses) normally obtain less than five miles per gallon of diesel when fully loaded. With diesel prices at around $4 per gallon, fuel station location becomes a critical factor in the planning process. Choose a location that will benefit all user departments and that is adjacent to the most heavily traveled areas.

The size of the property also plays an important role. Does the land area accommodate the size of the planned station? The area should be large enough to place the storage tanks far enough away from the dispenser island so as to avoid blocking or shutting down dispensers during site refueling. The site should allow for easy ingress and egress, especially during heavy (rush hour) traffic conditions. The site should be large enough to allow for future expansion and installation of alternative-­fuel dispensing equipment, such as compressed natural gas (CNG) compressor units and propane tanks.

Remember, fuel stations that are not co-located at other facilities may pose problems with security and unexpectedly increase operational budgets, such as the expense of security guards should vandalism and fuel theft become a problem.

Consider Environmental Regulations

Be aware of regulations that apply to fueling sites. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restrictions are normally placed upon locations that are close to rivers, streams, and underground aquifers. Local zoning codes may also place restrictions on site placement.

Additionally, avoid areas that could be inaccessible during severe weather conditions, such as floods and ice storms. Fuel stations that are located in an area where there are steep inclines in the roadway may make the site inaccessible when roads are iced-over. During floods, consider not only access road conditions, but also the probability of flood waters overflowing onto the site and possibly contaminating the fuel in underground storage tanks or damaging pumps and fuel/tank interface systems.

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