Root cause analysis for fuel losses in bulk oil storage tanks

Norman Gwangwava, Taboka Motlhabane, Richard Addo-Tenkorang, Enoch N. Ogunmuyiwa, Albert U. Ude, William Msekiwa Goriwondo

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Petroleum and its products are a major source of energy that plays a vital role in society, powering many essential tools that human life depends on. Supply-chain management is very important in the petroleum industry. Few continents have petroleum reserves, hence there is a need for efficient methods of managing the sourcing, storage and distribution processes across the globe. There have been major improvements in safety management practices, during extraction and processing, in transit, and in situ distribution. Bulk storage of petroleum plays a crucial role across the world as it eases distribution hassles and can act as emergency reserves in the event of disruptions in the supply chain. However, lighter fractions of petroleum have a tendency to evaporate during storage as they are highly volatile. Although there are mechanisms such as floating roofs that have been invented to effectively reduce evaporative losses of light petroleum fractions, the percentage of losses are still high, particularly in some climatic conditions. On average, floating roofs allow leeway for loss tolerances of +/- 0.2% of throughput. Unleaded petrol tanks record significant losses beyond the acceptable tolerances. The Botswana climate is semi-arid, which makes bulk oil storage facility manager cautious about prevailing conditions at their storage reserves. Trends analysed show losses well above the stated tolerance range. This article illustrates the analysis conducted to comprehend the root cause for losses experienced by bulk oil storage tanks (BOSTs) and decision making solution to tackle the problem of excessive evaporative losses in similar climatic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-345
Number of pages13
JournalProceedings of the International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management
Issue numberNOV
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventProceedings of the International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management Pretoria, IEOM 2018 -
Duration: 29 Oct 20181 Nov 2018


  • Bulk oil storage tanks
  • Petroleum
  • Root cause analysis
  • Semi-arid
  • Supply chain


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