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Tank Overfill Protection: Recommended Practice for Level Control

External Floating Roof

Tank overfill incidents in recent years API RP 2350: Key Points

have resulted in loss of life and billions
of dollars in damages to petroleum fa- APPLICABILITY: Above ground storage EQUIPMENT: Overfill Prevention System
cilities worldwide. One of the worst in- tanks (ASTs) with capacities greater than (OPS) typically includes an alarm signal
cidents — the overflow of a gasoline 1320 gallons (5000 L) that store Class I, system and allied support systems—
storage tank at Buncefield Oil Depot II or III flammable or combustible liquids, shutdown or diversion valves, commu-
(U.K.) — has been traced to the failure and that receive liquids from mainline nications, sensors, and logic solvers. An
of level control to maintain containment pipelines or marine vessels. OPS should be on an uninterruptible
MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: API RP 2350 power supply. Use of wireless com-
of the flammable liquid. More common
recommends a management system munication is prohibited by API
are minor spills that cause significant
focused on overfill prevention. This 2350.
environmental impact and result in mil-
lions of dollars in clean-up fees and en- system should include documented REDUNDANCY: A common strategy for
vironmental agency fines. procedures for normal and abnormal critical level detection is redundancy of
conditions including safety, emergency the sensors. Ideally, redundant sensors
response, trained and competent will be of disparate technologies to avoid
In the wake of this incident, the Ameri- personnel, properly maintained and multiple failures due to application
can Petroleum Institute’s (API) Recom- tested OPS, management of change concerns.
mended Practice (RP) 2350, the most process and incident reporting and
investigation. PROOF TESTING: All OPS equipment
widely accepted guideline for overfill required to terminate receipt must be
protection of petroleum storage tanks, INDEPENDENCE: A key feature of tested annually. The HH sensor and
has been revised. The fourth edition API RP 2350 is that the sensors and alarm must be tested semi-annually.
was published in May 2012 and com- alarms used for HH tank level or any Method of proof testing must stimulate
bined the prescriptive standards of RP part of the AOPS may not be used for an overfill situation as closely as possi-
2350 with the functional safety stan- routine tank filling operations. In addi- ble, but may not require filling the tank
dards of Safety Instrumented Systems tion, the HH level sensor on Category 3 above the maximum working level. Pos-
(SIS) as described in IEC 61511. tanks must be independent from all sible methods are manual testing, push-
other level sensors. button testing, self-diagnostics or
REQUIRED ALARMS: High-High Alarm devising a wet probe testing.
Vital to these new requirements is the
(Category 2 and 3) and optional FLOATING ROOF SENSORS: A sensor
application of level instrumentation as
Diagnostic Alarm (Category 3). used on a floating roof tank must detect
one part of a comprehensive Overfill
Prevention Process (OPP). the roof as well as the liquid should it
cover the roof.

Tank Categories & Recommended Instrumentation

API 2350 categorizes storage tanks by the extent to which personnel are in attendance during receiving operations.
The overfill prevention methodology is based upon the tank catagory.

Independent ATG
High-High Alarm (Automatic
ATG with High-High Alarm Tank Gauge) Control
(Automatic Tank Gauge)
Control Room Room

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3

Fully Attended Semi-Attended Unattended

• Personnel must always be on site during • Personnel must be present during the • Personnel are not required to be present
the receipt of product, must monitor the initial and final 30 minutes of the receipt. during receiving operations but are re-
receipt continuously during the first and The transporter must assist in monitoring motely located at a control center. The
last hours, and must verify receipt each the high-high alarm. transporter must monitor both the level
hour. and high-high alarm.

• Level instrumentation is not required but • Tanks must be equipped with an Auto- • Tanks must be equipped with an ATGS
may be used. Output will be local only. matic Tank Gauge System (ATGS) that in- consisting of a level sensor and independ-
Alarms may be point or continuous level cludes a high-high alarm and has a ent high-high sensor. The output of both
devices. transmittable output signal. A single sen- instruments must be transmitted to a con-
sor may be used for both level and high- trol center in “real time”. The level sensor
• Termination of receipt is done manually high alarm. If a separate sensor is used will be continuous. The high-high level sen-
by site personnel or by the transporter as for high-high level it may be point or con- sor may be continuous or point. Sensors
instructed by site personnel. tinuous. with self-diagnostics are preferred.

• Tanks where operator distraction or com- • The control center has the ability to ter- • The control center has the ability to ter-
plex receipt is possible shall not be clas- minate receipt. minate receipt. In addition, the HH sensor
sified as Category 1. must automatically terminate flow to the
tank or alert the transporter to terminate
receipt. Failure of the ATGS must, also,
automatically terminate flow.

Levels of Concern (LOCs)

Critical High

AOPS Activation


Maximum Working

Minimum Working

Levels of Concern are calculated product levels in the tank upon which all alarm and alert positions and response times are
based. Careful calculation of LOCs ensures the success of the OPS.

Level Explanation Required Action

Critical High Level (CH) - Required Highest level before tank damage or product Spill Management
overflow Emergency Response

Automated Overfill Prevention System (AOPS) Maximum level at which termination can be AOPS Activation
Activation Level - Required with AOPS automatically initiated without level reaching CH

High-High (HH) - Required Maximum level at which termination can be Alarm & Shutdown Responses
initiated manually without level reaching CH

Maximum Working Level (MW) - Highest level to which tank may be filled dur- None
Required ing normal operation

Minimum Working Level - Optional Lowest tank level permitted during normal None

Response Time
Time required from initiation of termination of receipt to prevent next higher alarm from triggering, based upon communication time, per-
sonnel response time, system response time, and safety factors.

Minimum High-High (HH) Level Response Time (if not calculated)

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3

Time in Minutes: 45 Time in Minutes: 30 Time in Minutes: 15

Roof Types

Fixed Roof or Floating Roof

with Instrument Well Internal Floating Roof External Floating Roof

Recommended Equipment: Recommended Equipment: Recommended Equipment:

• Eclipse® Guided Wave Radar • Pulsar® Radar Transmitter • Pulsar® Radar Transmitter
Transmitter • Model A15 Displacer Switch • Model A15 Displacer Switch
• Pulsar® Radar Transmitter
• Jupiter® Magnetostrictive Transmitter
(Orion Instruments®)
• Echotel® Model 961/962 Ultrasonic
• Model A15 Displacer Switch

Eclipse® Pulsar® Jupiter® Echotel® A15 Displacer

Recommended Level Switches

Point Level Sensors

Point level sensors actuate at one or more discrete levels. These types of instruments may be used as the HH sensor and may
be of a mechanical or electronic technology. Sensors used on floating roof tanks must detect the roof as well as the liquid
should the roof become submerged. Additional point sensors may be used for additional alarms or alerts as determined by the

Single-Point Top Mount Single-Point ECHOTEL Model 961 Dual-Point ECHOTEL Model 962
Buoyancy Displacer Switch Contact Ultrasound Switch Contact Ultrasound Switch

• Furnished with a non-sparking, hollow • Continuous diagnostics of sensor, elec- All the advanced features of the 961 single-
shell, brass displacer for dual detection tronics and electrical noise interference. point level switch, plus:
of both floating roof and liquid levels.
• DPDT HH level relay and SPDT dedi- • Dual point switch for two discrete set
• Proof-er Manual Check easily verifies cated diagnostic alarm relay. points.
operation without the need to move tank
level. • Push buttons for manual testing of level • Allows two set points through a single
and diagnostic relays. tank connection.
• Automatic reset of proofer.
• Loop current or relay output. • SIL 2 suitable; SFF: 91.5%.
• Retrofit kits available to convert your
model A15 from floating roof only to dual • Features “Watchdog Timer.”
detection as required by API RP 2350.
• Metal or plastic sensors.
• SIL 2 suitable with DPDT switch;
SFF: 77.7%. • SIL 2 suitable; SFF: 91.4%.

Recommended Level Transmitters

Continuous Level Sensors

Continuous level sensors output an analog-type signal over a specified range of the tank height. Continous sensors may be used
as the level sensor or as the high-high alarm sensor. Additional continous level sensors may be used to monitor additional alarm
or alert points as determined by the tank operator.


Guided Wave Radar Transmitter Pulse Burst Radar Transmitter Magnetostrictive Transmitter
(Orion Instruments®)

• Low dielectric media capability. • Non-contact technology • Continuous diagnostics (electronics,

sensor and float).
• Flexible probe to 100 ft. (30 m). • 5.8/6.3 GHz operating frequency offers
superior performance in turbulence, • Accuracy: ±0.015" (0.38 mm).
• True top-of-probe level detection. foam, and heavy vapors.
• Repeatability: ±0.005" (0.13 mm).
• Quick connect/disconnect probe. • Activiates on roof or liquid if roof sinks.
• 33.3 feet (10 meter) span.
• SIL 2 suitable; SFF: 93.0%. • Quick connect/disconnect probe.
• SIL 2 suitable (Model 26X); SFF: 90.7%.
• Continuous self diagnostics.

S p e c i a l A p p l i c at i o n S e r i e s
Other industry and special application brochures from MAGNETROL include:

• Chemical • Nuclear Power

• Crude Oil Processing • Petroleum Refining
• Flue Gas Desulfurization • Power Generation
• Food & Beverage • Pulp & Paper Mills
• Interface Level Measurement • Renewable Energy
• Life Science • Steam Generation
• Mass Flow Measurement • Tank Bridle Level Measurement
• Modular Skid Systems • Understanding Safety Integrity Level (SIL)
• Natural Gas Processing • Water & Wastewater

PLEASE NOTE: The instruments recommended in these brochures are based on field experience with
similar applications and are included as a general guide to level and flow control selection. Because all
applications differ, however, customers should determine suitability for their own purposes.

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