Ads for the introduction of E10 are now being seen and heard, but is your site ready for the change?
The introduction of E10 could have many implications for fuel retailers. That’s the view of Edward Wheeler, group managing director of Eutotank Service Group.
“E10 has double the amount of ethanol content than E5, which actually makes phase separation less likely, as more water is required to mix with the ethanol to get it to separate. However, phase separation in E5 has only occurred when water has leaked into a tank, not through general trading conditions. What this means for retailers is that after E10 is introduced, if water leaks in and mixes with the E10 fuel and phase separation occurs, there will be double the amount of ethanol to come out of separation. This will increase costs in terms of lost/contaminated product and potentially allow more water/ethanol mix to be sucked into vehicles through the pumps.”
Wheeler says that as with E5, retailers need to appreciate that tank gauges are not always going to detect water leaking into their systems with E10. “This is because if water leaks in through the top of the tank, then the water droplets will mix with the ethanol as they fall to the bottom of the tank, changing their density. Tank gauge water floats will not float in a water/ethanol mix, meaning tank gauges will not detect it. This phenomenon is more likely with E10 than E5. It is also unlikely that remote wet-stock SIR monitoring will detect water leaking in until after it is too late.”
Other wet-stock issues that the introduction of E10 could cause are related to meter wear or failure causes by material breakdown or mobilised rust particles.
Wheeler therefore strongly recommends annual measure checking of pumps, irrespective of the overall site wet-stock performance as some meters could be under- dispensing, hiding some meters that are over- dispensing. “It is important to do a thorough fast- and slow- measure check to ensure the meters are not worn or damaged,” he explains.
Wheeler says Europump’s TrueZero piston meter system is the best method to determine if pump meters are worn or damaged. “This is because, rather than relying on an engineer to pull a trigger very slowly over hundreds of litres of fuel dispensed, our TrueZero system uses a simple ball valve in front of the piston meter to slow the pump right down to five litres per minute, so that accurate data can be recorded between the fast and slow. Any variance of 30, 40, 50ml indicates the meter is worn and should be replaced.
“It is likely that the pump maintenance industry is going to be stretched for years to come due to the introduction of E10 so retailers should start thinking now about being proactive about their approach to housekeeping.
“Preventative measures like tank cleaning, gasket removal and planned annual measure checks are going to help retailers to navigate through E10 without serious issues but failure of internal components in pumps and meters are not going to be prevented by preventative maintenance.”
In an industry where the ‘polluter pays’, Dan Gibson, wet-stock manager at the Sursite Group, says it’s more important than ever for a site operator to employ the services of professionals to help manage their wet stock.
“In 2014, a major supermarket received an £8.5m fine following a large fuel leak from one of its forecourts. The Environment Agency’s investigation found the leak resulted from the failure to address a known issue with the fuel delivery system and an inadequate alarm system. With the cost of fuel increasing and with the likelihood of significant fines, utilising wet-stock management helps prevent disasters like this from happening. Wet-stock management has long been seen as a cost-effective form of leak detection, not only for its potential benefits to the environment, but also in the way it can help operators control their most valuable asset – their fuel. Wet-stock management can help quantify seasonal effects on fuel, ease identifying maintenance issues and track contractor attendance for repairs.”
Gibson says the biggest step in wet-stock management in the last decade has been the introduction of real-time wet-stock monitoring.
“Data is continuously sent from your site. This allows for constant monitoring of all elements of wet stock including pump-flow rates, water ingress, delivery validation and alarms.
“Unlike the daily ‘dip book’ reconciliation data – which means it can be days or even weeks until a fuel loss issue is noted – real-time monitoring is more immediate.
“With dip book variances, an increase in loss will take longer to pinpoint with manual tests such as pump tests or tank and line tests required. Whereas variances detected using real-time data can be drilled into and its cause seen, for example fuel loss on delivery or a failed meter on one nozzle.”
There is no doubt that professional wet-stock management is vital, not least of all to meet the Blue Book’s requirements, where a third-party wet-stock specialist needs to review your wet-stock reconciliation weekly and provide a monthly compliance certificate for your tank’s performance.
Top tips for your wet stock management
Ensure your tank gauge is accurate. It’s important to make sure your tank gauge is set up correctly with minimal calibration. The less error there is, the more accurate the data will be.
Reconcile delivery volumes. Always check the amount of fuel that’s been ordered compared to the amount of fuel delivered. The fill pipe is only wet at the point of delivery, whereas your fuel tanks are wet all the time. By checking and confirming delivery volumes, it may help to identify a leak if the two do not tally up.
Carry out preventative maintenance. Take the time to check that all of your equipment is working properly and react to any maintenance issues quickly when they are flagged. For example, if the flow rate is dropping off, check to see if the filters need changing. Preventative maintenance can save you a great deal of money in the long run.
Source: Suresite Group