Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Pipework and fittings for oil storage

Pipework and fittings

To comply with the Regulations on Oil Storage you must ensure all pipework, above and below ground, is correctly positioned and properly maintained. There is a particular risk of oil leaks from poorly fitted pipes. Ideally, pipes should be above ground.


What you must do

Follow requirements for above-ground pipework

You must locate all pipework and fittings (ancillary equipment) within the secondary containment systems (SCS). This includes valves, filters, sight gauges and vent pipes.

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 try is clean and empty before each delivery.

You must also:

  • ensure any fill pipe, draw-off pipe or vent pipe is properly supported
  • ensure that any sight gauge is properly supported and fitted with a valve that closes automatically when it's not in use
  • install pipework where there is minimal risk of collision or damage.


Prevent leaks from pipework

You must protect metal fill pipes, draw-off pipes or overflow pipes from corrosion and in Scotland do not use pipes that are permeable to hydrocarbon vapours.

In Northern Ireland you must position any vent pipe, tap or valve through which oil can be discharged from the tank into the open so any spilt oil is retained within the SCS.


Follow requirements for below-ground pipework

If pipework is underground, you must ensure that it:

  • has no mechanical joints, except where you can access them for inspection
  • is protected against corrosion and from physical damage
  • has adequate facilities for detecting leaks
  • is not permeable to hydrocarbon vapours.

Clearly mark the route of underground pipework on the ground and site plans to avoid accidental damage and help in servicing and maintenance.


Leak detection devices

You may decide to fit underground fill or draw-off pipes with a leak detection device. If you use a continuous leak detection device, make sure it's in working order and test it regularly and at least every five years in Scotland. Keep a record of the test results and any maintenance work completed.

If you don't use a continuous leak detection system you must test underground pipework:

  • before use
  • with mechanical joints every five years
  • at least every ten years.

Avoid spills from deliveries and dispensing oil

If a screw fitting or other fixed coupling is fitted to the tank, you must maintain it in good condition and use it when filling the tank.

If you can’t see the tank and any vent pipe from where the filling process is controlled, you must fit an automatic overfill prevention device. This could include an alarm or a fail safe device.

If you use a permanently attached, flexible pipe to deliver oil from the tank to a container or delivery pump, you must :

  • fit a tap or valve at the delivery end of the pipe which closes automatically when not in use
  • ensure that the tap or valve cannot be fixed in the open position, unless the pipe is fitted with an automatic shut off device.

When a delivery pipe is not in use you must ensure that it either:

  • is kept in a secure, locked cabinet with a drip tray
  • has a lockable valve (locked shut when not in use) where it leaves the container, and that it is kept within an SCS.

You must ensure that any pump is:

  • fitted with a valve in its feed line that stops the tank contents draining out if the pump or pipework to the pump is damaged
  • positioned to minimise any risk of damage
  • protected from unauthorised use.


Comply with agricultural fuel oil regulations

In Northern Ireland if you store oil for agricultural use on a farm, for example to produce heat or power, there are separate regulations that govern how you must store it.

In Scotland the Regulations for Oil Storage apply to oil stored on farms.

Storing and using oil for Agriculture


Good practice

Even if the Oil Storage Regulations do not apply to your oil storage, you should still consider meeting the requirements of the regulations.

GPP 2 Above ground oil storage tanks (Adobe PDF - 276KB)

SEPA: Oil storage guidance for Scotland


Further information

NIEA and SEPA Water Pollution Hotline 0800 80 70 60

DAERA: Oil storage guidance for Northern Ireland

SEPA: Oil storage guidance for Scotland

GPP 2 Above ground oil storage tanks (Adobe PDF - 276KB)

GPP 21: Pollution incident response planning

In this Guideline

Where to locate your oil storage container

Requirements for your oil storage container

Secondary containment systems (Bunding)

Pipework and fittings for oil storage

Mobile bowsers for oil and fuel

Maintaining your oil storage containers

Prevent pollution: dealing with oil spills

Oil storage - Further information

Oil storage environmental legislation

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