Oil Storage Regulations

Do the Oil Storage Regulations apply to you?

The Oil Storage Regulations aim to ensure that you store oil safely and minimise the risk of pollution incidents. They apply to oil stored in:

  • tanks
  • intermediate bulk containers
  • oil drums
  • mobile bowsers
  • in Scotland, any container containing oil.

In England the Oil Storage Regulations may apply to you if you store oil above ground, outside in containers with a capacity of more than 200 litres.

In Scotland the regulations will affect you if you store oil of any kind at your premises, regardless of the volume.

For domestic oil storage, ie on premises used wholly or mainly as a private dwelling, the regulations only apply to containers with a storage capacity of more than 3,500 litres in England, or 2,500 litres in Scotland. You will need to comply with Building Regulations for any new, replacement or altered domestic tanks.


Which oils are not covered by the Oil Storage Regulations?

The Oil Storage Regulations do not apply to oil you store on premises used wholly for distributing oil onto other places .

In England the regulations also do not apply to oil you store:

  • in any container with a storage capacity of 200 litres or less
  • in a container situated within a building
  • in a container situated wholly underground
  • on premises used to refine oil
  • on a farm, where the oil is used to produce heat or power for agriculture.

In England if you store mineral-based lubricating or industrial waste oil it is exempt from the Oil Storage Regulations but you will have to comply with the Environmental Permitting Regulations

In Scotland the regulations do not apply to oil you store:

  • in a container situated wholly underground, unless the container is in an underground building room, when they do apply
  • in accordance with a pollution prevention and control (PPC) Part A permit.

Even if the Oil Storage Regulations do not apply to you, you should still store your oil responsibly. Good practice guidance to help you store your oil to minimise the risk of pollution is available in Pollution Prevention Guidline (PPG) 2: Above ground oil storage.


General requirements of the Oil Storage Regulations

If you store oil in England or Scotland, you must comply with the general requirements of the Oil Storage Regulations. These regulations do not apply in Northern Ireland and Wales. However, you should still consider meeting the requirements of the regulations, as they aim to prevent water pollution. If you pollute water you are committing an offence and you may be prosecuted and fined.

Containers, bunds and drip trays
You must use oil containers that are strong enough and that are unlikely to burst or leak during ordinary use. In Scotland this is the only requirement for portable oil containers with a capacity less than 200 litres.
You must store containers within a drip tray, bund or any other suitable secondary containment system (SCS). This will contain any oil that escapes from its container.
For oil tanks, intermediate bulk containers and mobile bowsers, your SCS must be able to hold:

  • at least 110% of the volume of any single container in the storage area, or
  • if there is more than one container, at least 110% of the largest container’s storage volume, or at least 25% of their total volume (whichever is greater).

For drum storage your drip tray must be able to hold at least 25% of the total storage capacity of the drums.

Position the SCS to minimise the risk of damage, eg from vehicles.

You must ensure that the base and walls of your bunds are impermeable to water and oil. The base and walls must not be penetrated by any valve, pipe or opening that is used for draining the system.

If any fill pipe or draw-off pipe goes through the base or walls, you must seal the junction of the pipe with the base or walls to prevent oil escaping from the system.

You must locate within the SCS all valves, filters, sight gauges, vent pipes and other equipment, other than fill pipes or draw-off pipes or pumps.

Where a fill pipe is not within the SCS, you must use a drip tray to catch any oil spilled when the container is being filled. You should make sure this drip tray is clean and empty before each delivery.