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Remote Refuelling: NextGen

There was a time when helicopter operators flying in Canada’s remote areas could get away with using unprotected fuel caches. If some gas happened to leak onto the ground, it just did. But times have changed. Today, governmental regulations require any users of fuel to store it in a manner that is both safe and designed to cope with leaks.


February 23, 2010
By James Careless

Topics

There was a time when helicopter operators flying in Canada’s remote
areas could get away with using unprotected fuel caches. If some gas
happened to leak onto the ground, it just did. But times have changed.
Today, governmental regulations require any users of fuel to store it
in a manner that is both safe and designed to cope with leaks.

a25-05-in-boise-v2
Edmonton's EnviroTankers helps helicopter operators get the remote site fuel they need quickly, safely and within environmental regulations.


This is good for the environment, but tough for fuel users who have to
build containment berms – complete with rubber linings – around their
single-walled fuel storage tanks. It also adds to the headache of
obtaining and managing fuel stocks in remote areas. When you’re off in
the bush, you can’t just fly your helicopter to a pre-established
filling station. You have to arrange for fuel to be brought in and set
up for use.

For the past nine years, Edmonton’s EnviroTankers has been helping
helicopter operators get the remote site fuel they need quickly, safely
and within environmental regulations. The reason: EnviroTankers has
developed a self-contained double-walled fuel tanker that is
transported as needed by truck. This means that helicopter fuel can be
brought in anywhere that a heavy diesel truck can drive into, and then
left on site for immediate usage, without any need to build protective
fuel berms.

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“We strongly believe that an EnviroTanker offers superior environmental
protection over standard tank trucks due to its double wall,” says Paul
MacLean, president of ÉEM Inc., a Montreal consultancy that advises
industry on environmentally sustainable business practices. “In
addition, its size, and its 'park and use' ability reduce the number of
fuel transfers when compared to traditional temporary aboveground
storage tanks, thereby reducing the risk of spills,” MacLean notes.
“Where regulations require secondary containment, we are confident that
an EnviroTanker can meet those requirements without additional diking
or berming.”

envirotankers---fire-season
 
Because the MET II is capable of handling spills internally, it can be safely parked near environmentally sensitive areas.
 
abitibi-heli
 
Abitibi Helicopters is a longstanding EnviroTankers client.


 

The EnviroTanker Concept
EnviroTankers is an Edmonton firm that specializes in remote fuel
deliveries in North America. “Initially, we would provide our clients
with steel-lined double-walled skid tanks, which would be filled from a
tanker truck,” says Randy Simonneau, EnviroTanker’s COO and managing
director. “Even though the tanks were mounted on flatbeds, we would
have to drain them completely before moving them; even to the other
side of a project site!”

This unit was known as Mobile EnviroTanker Phase I; MET I for short.
Capable of holding 20,000 to 25,000 litres of fuel, its need for
defuelling offset the advantages of EnvironTankers’ patented
double-walled design. This is why the company came up with MET II,
which is a totally self-contained, double-walled trailer unit that
meets all Canadian and U.S. highway standards. This means that MET II
fuel tanks can be driven to their site, unhitched and used without any
need for protective fuel berms. As well, MET II tanks are made
completely of aluminum, a lighter metal that allows these tanks to hold
up to 40,000 litres while staying within maximum gross weight limits
for North American highways.

“The MET II is built upon the notion of having a ‘tank within a tank,’”
Simonneau explains. “The fuel is stored in the inner tank. Should any
kind of leakage occur – from an imperfect weld or other defect – the
outer tank is capable of holding it. In fact, the outer protective
tank's holding capacity is 110 per cent that of the inner fuel tank.
This leaves no margin for error.” The MET IIs are built by several
manufacturers throughout North America under license agreements with
EnviroTankers.

Because the MET II is capable of handling spills internally, it can be
safely parked near salmon streams and any other environmentally
sensitive areas. Not only does the double-walled design protect the
environment but the helicopter companies who use this technology shield
themselves from government prosecution and expensive clean-up
operations.


What EnviroTankers Users Have to Say

Abitibi Helicopter’s western Canadian fleet is a longstanding
EnviroTankers client. “We’ve been using its MET II units since the
company released them six years ago,” says Robert Fauteux, manager of
Abitibi’s Western Division. “We were already customers of
SaveonJetFuel, simply because of the one-stop service they offer.”

Abitibi chose SaveonJetFuel after years of ordering aviation fuel
directly from Imperial Oil's refinery. “We had to phone for fuel every
four to five days, because of the smaller size of fuel tanks that were
available to us,” Fauteux tells Helicopters magazine. “We had to book
the tankers ourselves from local cartage companies, then arrange for
them to be delivered and bermed to handle spills.”

After signing up with EnviroTankers, all this changed. “Today, all we
have to do is call for fuel, and EnviroTankers handles the rest,” he
says. “They deliver the EnviroTankers where we need them, allowing us
to access the fuel right away. The 40,000-litre tank capacity means
that we can go up to 10 days before needing to get a new tanker
delivered to our site. And we don't have to worry about spills, because
the double-walled design takes care of that risk.”

VIH Helicopters has been using MET IIs for the past four years. “We
started off with some rentals, then bought our own,” says Corey Taylor,
the company's operations manager. “Today we own six.” VIH Helicopters
deploys the MET IIs to support remotely located helicopter bases
serving the oil and gas industry, mineral exploration, and heli-logging
for the U.S. Forest Service.

“In years past, we used to use single-walled tanks with containment
berms, which were expensive and time-consuming,” Taylor says. “Then we
switched to double-walled tanks on skids. But these had to be drained
every time you wanted to move them. Since some jobs require us to move
our tanks four or five times, it would cost us $5,000-$6,000 each time
to do so. That money paid for two trucks: one to hoist the empty tank,
the other to hold the off-loaded fuel. In contrast, we now just hire a
tractor cab truck to pull the MET II to its next location. That might
cost us $1,000 to go four to five kilometres. It doesn't take long for
the MET IIs to pay for themselves.”

VIH Helicopters also appreciates the holding capacity of EnviroTankers’
MET IIs. “Even if you get a smaller tanker that holds 25,000 litres,
you can still count on getting a few days’ fuel into it,” says Taylor.
“Given that the U.S. Forest Service requires us to have an eight-hour
fuel reserve on hand at all times, this capacity is a big plus.”

Judging by the testimonials on www.envirotankers.com, the company’s
other clients are equally satisfied with their MET IIs. “Shell insists
on state-of-the-art practices and equipment, especially where the
environment is concerned,” writes Gary W. Deren, senior seismic
supervisor with WA&SO Shell Canada Limited. “These MET II units are
a dramatic improvement in mobile refueling for environmentally
sensitive areas. Our contractors will now be expected to use
EnviroTankers for remote refueling operations to help reduce Shell’s
environmental liability.”

“The EnviroTankers do everything we need them to do in an
environmentally friendly way. Rigorous, logistical concerns have been
alleviated,” adds Val Putzi, operations manager with Bertram Drilling
Corporation in Calgary, Alta. “We love it, and better yet our customers
love it as well.”


Aiming for Growth

At present, EnviroTankers has more than 30 MET IIs in the field. They
are primarily used by helicopter operators in Canada and the United
States. “It’s an exciting time for us,” says Randy Simonneau. “We have
just incorporated in the United States as EnviroTankers International,
and we are looking at expanding outside of North America. There is a
real need for double-walled tankers that protect the environment, and
our Canadian-designed EnviroTankers are up to the job.” EnviroTankers
International is based in Phoenix, Ariz., and has partnered with World
Fuel Services. A Fortune 500 company, World Fuel Services provides
aviation fuel in 23 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.

“We’ve come a long way with the EnviroTankers design,” Simonneau
concludes. “What started as an inspiration within SaveonJetFuel’s
Edmonton offices has the potential to become a global reality!”

The MET II's Specs
EnviroTankers' 40,000-litre MET II tankers are patented double-walled aluminum tanks, providing 110 per cent containment of any potential leaks. This system includes spill control in the fuel cabinet for the bottom loading system and hose, plus overfill protection when fuel is being loaded into the MET II. When the tank is 97 per cent full, the intake valve automatically shuts down.
Because the MET II meets DOT 406/TC 406 standards, it can be hitched to
a truck and moved both on- and off-road as needed. It also meets the
following standards: UL 14; ULC S653; UL/ULC compliance for 110 per
cent containment, overfill protection and spill control; US EPA 40 CFR
Part 112, oil prevention, spill prevention, control and countermeasure
plan requirements (SPCC); and Environment Canada Secondary Containment
Compliance.
The MET II has a low profile, to reduce the chance of rollovers on secondary and logging roads.


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