Self Bunded Tanks in South Africa. The new frontier for fuel storage.


While diesel prices are expected to decrease slightly in South Africa as we move into 2020, petrol prices are again on the increase and transport costs mean inland operators continue to pay more.

For local businesses, responding to the fluctuations in price and ensuring a reliable supply of quality fuel is a major challenge.

Investing in new fuel storage options including above-ground self-bunded tanks is one way local businesses are revolutionising their operations and shielding their business from the uncertainty of the fuel cycle.

Fuel pricing and transport challenges in South Africa

High and fluctuating fuel prices are the single biggest fuel-related issue for South African business, particularly when you consider the need to buy clean fuel that meets minimum emission standards and the bunker fuel oil sulphur cap.

While fuel forecourts provide convenience, buying in bulk through the retail network is expensive both in cost of product and in transport and handling costs.

Poor road infrastructure, bulk fuel theft and hijackings are among the serious challenges involved in transporting fuel in addition to sometimes lengthy loading and offloading turnaround times, traffic congestion and vast distances.

Xwena Petroleum’s Johann Appies says increasingly, South African operators are looking for new ways to secure an affordable fuel supply and ensure reliability and value for money by installing their own fuel storage systems.

“For titans of industry who need to keep power plants or manufacturing facilities operating and fleets on the road 24 hours a day, reliability of supply is their overarching concern,” Johann says.

“In most cases this boils down to capacity, both in terms of bulk fuel storage and logistics. Increasingly, businesses are taking matters into their own hands to develop their own storage infrastructure.”

Self-bunded fuel storage tanks – an affordable bulk fuel storage option

The availability of self-bunded fuel storage tanks like the Australian-developed FES Tanks range is revolutionising fuel storage options for South African business.

Johann says using self-bunded tanks like the FES range has enabled the above ground storage of fuel, solvents and other flammable liquids in a way that’s affordable, flexible and meets regulatory and environmental requirements.

“Because FES self-bunded above ground tanks come in sizes from 1000 to 110,000 litres and don’t require any external bund walls, they make it possible to store fuel in areas where it wouldn’t previously have been possible. The design of the tanks also means they can be easily secured on-site.

“Fire rated self-bunded fuel storage options mean operators can now store petrol and diesel aboveground in high volume areas while meeting all legislative requirements and standards – something that previously wasn’t viable with traditional un-bunded round tanks.

Self-bunded fuel storage tanks – a new frontier

Johann says significant costs are already being saved in rural and industrial areas by using aboveground self-bunded tanks as opposed to the traditional options that require expensive site preparation and earthworks.

“They’re easier to install, clean and maintain than traditional underground tanks, with easy secure access and the capability to work with the latest fuel distribution and management technology.

“Tanks can also be offered on a rental basis with no capital required upfront and rental included in fuel supplied. This means business operators can make savings immediately from installation. After the rental period they own the storage and dispensing infrastructure without any rental premiums, maximising their cost savings.”

Making small scale fuel distribution a reality for South African business

Safe, easily transportable above-ground petrol and diesel storage options are also opening up new opportunities in fuel distribution.

“Self-bunded Bloc tanks are a safe, convenient way to store and dispense smaller quantities of diesel and petrol fuels or lubricants.

“These small cube tanks – from 1000 litres – are ideal for siting next to a generator and can be paired with the latest fuel distribution systems.”

New options like solar panels to power fuel pumps and distribution equipment are also offsetting the high electricity costs which have traditionally been a deterrent for fuel depot or retail operators in South Africa, Johann says.

“With the range of renewable energy solutions now available to lower input costs and reduce or negate dependency on the grid, fuel distribution systems can now be successfully operated through solar power during the day.

“Smart Payment systems and other technology platforms are also enabling the sharing of bulk fuel infrastructure, creating even greater cost savings. The same systems can be utilized to create compelling loyalty offerings to entice customers with other value offerings.”


Find out more about the FES Tanks range and how our experts in South Africa can help you design the right fuel storage system for your business at

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