During the week commencing 20 February 2017, ACAPMA held a series of workshops with stakeholders involved in the design, installation, support and servicing of petroleum equipment in Australia.

The three workshops were held in Brisbane (21 February), Sydney (22 February) and Melbourne (23 February) and were attended by 140 people from across all sections of the industry – including representatives of key regulatory bodies.

“To be honest, we were surprised by the large turn-out at these workshops and our sincere thanks goes out to all those who took the time out to participate,” said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

The principal purpose of the workshops was two-fold. First, to secure feedback on any areas where there were perceived gaps in best practices relating to the operation and maintenance of retail fuel infrastructure in Australia.

Second, to secure industry feedback on how ACAPMA might best champion the genuine needs of the petroleum contracting industry in the future via targeted advocacy programmes and industry leadership.

“Discussions were frank and robust with participants keen to ensure that ACAPMA fully understood the recent history of the contracting industry and past efforts made towards the development of voluntary industry standards and best practice guidelines”, Mark said.

“For our part, we were keen to communicate the stated desire of our retail members that any future guidelines should seek to ensure best practice management of infrastructure at the least cost to fuel retail businesses”, said Mark.

“It was our contention that much of the problems of the past stemmed from a general suspicion amongst fuel retail businesses about the true motivations of the petroleum contracting industry in advancing standards for fuel storage and dispensing infrastructure”, said Mark.

Resolving this issue requires open communication between fuel retailers and petroleum contractors – a dialogue that has been made possible by the inclusion of petroleum contractor representation under the ACAPMA umbrella.

During the workshop there was considerable discussion about the adequacy (or otherwise) of current Australian Standards, with participants noting that AS1940 had recently been reviewed and was currently being circulated for comment.

“It is clear that AS1940 has not kept pace with regulatory changes in the petroleum retail industry and we will be making that point in our submission back to Standards Australia next week”, said Mark.

One of the most valuable findings of the workshops was the discovery that previous bodies such as the Australian Petroleum Industry Contractors and Suppliers Association (with its’ Recommended Practices) and the Australian Institute of Petroleum (with its Codes of Practice) have previously completed substantial work on recommended practices for industry.

Workshop participants suggested that this work could potentially be used to fast-track the development of ACAPMA’s new Best Practice Guidelines.

Analysis of the workshop findings indicated that there were a number of key gaps in current standards and guidelines relating to retail petroleum operations in Australia. These gaps included:

  1. Management and storage of biofuels.
    There was a general consensus that there are no best practice guidelines for ensuring that underground tank storage infrastructure is compatible with the storage of specific biofuels. Nor were there any guidelines in respect of the fuel management practices that should be employed for storage and dispensing of biofuels in Australia. Given that two Australian states had mandated the sale of biofuels, the absence of these guidelines is creating considerable confusion amongst retailers and potentially gives rise to environmental and infrastructure risks from use of incompatible underground storage infrastructure.
  2. Vapour Recovery (VR).
    Workshop participants acknowledged past APICSA work in this area but suggested that there was an urgent need to revisit this work. Specifically, there was a need to provide guidance for the installation of VR1 and VR2 equipment as well as providing retailers with guidance on appropriate maintenance and test procedures for this equipment.
  3. Underground Petroleum Storage System (UPSS) performance monitoring practices.
    The introduction of UPSS regulations in NSW and the voluntary assessment scheme introduced in Victoria, suggests a need for the development of a best practice guideline relating to the monitoring of UPSS performance to support early identification of any environmental risks and economic loss associated with leaking tanks.
  4. Stormwater management.
    Conflicting regulatory decisions (particularly in NSW) about stormwater systems at service stations suggests that there is an urgent need for the development of best practice guidelines relating to the capture, storage and treatment of forecourt run-off. It was suggested that the current confusion is potentially blocking new treatment systems that deliver superior environmental and safety performance – and therefore there was a need to develop guidelines in this area as a matter of priority.

With these priorities now identified, ACAPMA will produce four Best Practice Guidelines during 2017. It is envisaged that these guidelines will be developed according to the following timetable:

  • Assembly of expert advisory groups (by 31 March 2017).
  • Development of draft best practice guidelines, largely via adaptation of past work (by 31 May 2017).
  • Stakeholder consultation on draft guidelines (by 30 June 2017)
  • Finalisation of Best Practice Guidelines and approval by expert advisory groups (by 31 July 2017)
  • ACAPMA Equipment and Services Council sign-off for new Best Practice Guidelines (by mid-August 2017)
  • Production and release of new Best Practice Guidelines at the Asia Pacific Fuel Industry Forum (to be held in Melbourne on 13-14 September 2017)

“While the timetable is aggressive, we think it is achievable with the support and goodwill of industry participants that appears to be present”, said Mark.

The Guidelines will be developed in plain english, primarily for use by fuel retailers and industry regulators alike.

“Our intent is to make these Best Practice Guidelines freely available to all in an attempt to improve industry practices and reduce current levels of regulatory inconsistency for works approvals”, said Mark.

“Inconsistency in planning and approval processes was one of the greatest areas of concern identified by stakeholders during the recent workshops”, Mark continued.

Calls for nominations to the working groups will be made shortly with the members of these working groups to provide expert input into the development of the new draft guidelines.

The development of these four best practice guides will be progressed in parallel with ACAPMA’s National Petroleum Contractor Registration Scheme (NPCRS) as part of the Association’s increasing commitment to supporting the needs of petroleum contractor and petroleum equipment supply businesses in Australia.

Further information about the proposed Best Practice Guidelines (or the NPCRS) can be obtained by contacting the ACAPMA Secretariat on 1300 160 270 or by emailing communications@acapma.com.au.