Planning a New External Oil Storage Tank? Read This!

A new oil tank requires an investment in both time and money. Once it’s sited, your new tank may well be around for decades. This means it’s worthwhile taking some time to make sure you buy the tank that’s going to suit your needs as they change.

As well as purchasing the tank and having it installed, there are other important practical considerations. It’s also vital to ensure you comply with your local regulations to avoid the cost and inconvenience of having to change your installation setup at a later date.

Atlantis Tanks recommend that you take advice from an approved OFTEC installer. Doing so can save you time, money and legal headaches. They install tanks every day so will quickly be able to answer your questions and they keep up to date on changing legislation.

A competent tank installer will be able to quickly assess your proposed site, looking for potential hazards and noting environmental issues, such as nearby watercourses, boreholes and manholes. Environmental considerations affect where you can put your new tank and what type of tank you need to have to comply with the law. For example, you may need to install a steel bunded tank rather than a single-skinned steel or plastic oil tank.

Let’s have a look at some issues you need to think about when you’re planning a new external oil tank.

Where Should I put my Oil Tank?

A leak from your domestic oil tank or pipework can have a huge impact on property, health and the environment. It’s important to think carefully about where to install your tank so that it complies with local building regulations as well as being safe for both people and the environment.

We recommend your oil tank be installed outside, above ground within a secondary containment system. Positioning it to minimise the risk of pollution and maximise its security is important, so consider placing the tank in view of a frequently occupied room or somewhere where it can be easily monitored via CCTV. Oil theft is on the rise so security is a vital consideration.

OFTEC has this to say:

“Oil tanks are required to comply with fire separation distances in order to adequately protect the stored fuel from a fire or heat source, that may originate nearby. Tanks should be sited:

  • 1.8m away from the non-fire rated eaves of a building
  • 1.8m away from a non-fire rated building or structure (for example, a garden shed)
  • 1.8m away from openings (such as doors or windows) in a fire rated building or structure (for example, a brick built house/garage)
  • 1.8m away from oil fired appliance flue terminals
  • 760mm away from a non-fire rated boundary, such as a wooden boundary fence
  • 600mm away from screening (for example, trellis and foliage) that does not form part of the boundary

If it is not possible to comply with these requirements, a fire protection barrier with at least 30 minutes fire rating must be installed.” Atlantis Tanks supply fire barrier systems that can be used for this purpose. It’s also possible to install a fire resistant tank in these circumstances.

What type of tank do I need?

Whatever tank you choose, it’s important that it has been manufactured to European, British or other recognised industry standards. To comply with these regulations, tanks are tested to strict quality standards.

Single Skin Tanks

This type of tank is composed of a single skin made from plastic or metal. These are the cheapest types of oil storage tanks but they have limitations.

Single skin tanks are subject to tighter restrictions on their location. Regulations around storing domestic fuel oil are subject to frequent change. Therefore, we recommend that you choose a bunded (double skin) steel tank to avoid potential future compliance issues.

Plastic or Steel?

We would usually recommend choosing a steel oil storage tank. Plastic tanks are more susceptible to oil theft and are more likely to be damaged. Take a look at this guide on the pros and cons of plastic and steel tanks

Bunded Steel Tanks

A bunded steel tank has two skins. This is so that any spills are contained within the bund rather than leaking out of the tank. This provides the best level of protection against oil leaks, protecting your pocket, your health and the environment.

Correct Installation of External Oil Tanks

The tank must be installed on a stable, level base. The best way to achieve this is to lay concrete or paving slabs. The base must be at least 50mm thick if using paving slabs on a compact and blinded hardcore base or 100mm if using concrete.

Building regulations require oil tanks to be installed on a base that extends 300mm past the widest point in all directions. This helps prevent fire spreading from nearby vegetation or buildings.

A registered OFTEC installer, or an installer registered with another ‘competent persons scheme’, can certify their own installation in line with OFTEC regulations. If you plan on doing the work yourself, you must notify Building Control. Your work will be inspected before it is signed off.

Access Issues

Access to your tank is an important consideration when you’re choosing the best location. Your tank needs to be fully accessible to your oil delivery driver so that he/she can visually inspect it as well as access the fill point.

You will also need to be able to access the tank yourself to carry out essential maintenance and check your fuel level.


It’s important to get advice from your insurance company about where an oil storage tank should go. They may have a view on the location and any potential risks, which could affect what insurance coverage you need. Failing to involve them may result in an unpaid claim, so it’s worth a phone call!

Atlantis Tanks – We’re Here to Help

The Atlantis Tanks team has decades of experience in helping our customers choose the right tank and the best location for a new tank. If you’d like any advice, please give us a call on 0330 999 1100.