Every two years a certified inspector must carry out an external, visual inspection. This is known as an “inspection during operation”. With underground tanks the cathodic protection must be checked by a suitable firm every two years to determine whether the tank is rusting in any places. The safety valves must be checked every four years. Normally this involves a specialist firm dismantling them, testing them in a workshop and replacing them if necessary. Every twelve years the tank must be shut down and subjected to thorough inspection by suitably qualified technicians. Normally this is done by means of acoustic emission testing, but on rare occasions the inspector climbs into the tank and checks the interior by various methods.
According to the manufacturers’ specifications, pressure regulators have a useful life of 15 years, after which they have to be replaced. The durability of the paintwork is heavily dependent on the surroundings. Certain trees emit substances that attack paint. Generally, though, the paintwork can be expected to last at least 20 years.
Under current legislation the “operator” of a gas tank (i.e. the person who uses the gas) is responsible for safety and compliance with all rules and regulations imposed by law.
As a service offered to all its contractual customers, SOCAR can take responsibility for organising these safety and compliance duties and activities. In exchange for a flat-rate annual fee SOCAR will co-ordinate and liaise with all necessary specialists and arrange for any works required to be carried out. A condition of this service is that any sub-contractor called in by SOCAR must have unobstructed access to the customer’s installation at all times.