Long-Delayed Military Contract Opens Opportunities for Local Manufacturer
Bakersfield fuel tank manufacturer Bryant Fuel Systems LLC was a 3-year-old startup with few sales under its belt when, in late 1991, it got its first big chance to dazzle U.S. Army brass.
It was a hit. Word quickly got around military circles that the above-ground fuel tank Bryant built for Fort Irwin National Training Center near Barstow had slashed the amount of time it took to refuel combat aircraft. Unlike competing tanks, this one could fill up military helicopters while they were still running.
Five months later, the Army solicited bids for more than 20 tanks with specifications resembling Bryant’s system to equip its helicopter training base at Fort Rucker, Ala. Half a dozen bids came in but no purchase contract was issued.
In the quarter century that followed, Bryant went through its share of ups and downs, changing hands and gradually building up commercial and government clientele. Then, in 2018 — finally — the Army announced Fort Rucker was in need of 12 above-ground fuel tanks much like the one Bryant had demonstrated all those years before.
Bryant’s bid ended up prevailing in what the company views as not only vindication for a plucky little company that could, but also a breakthrough sale that may well lead to bigger and better things.
Read Full Story
Bringing Fuel Storage Above Ground
Back in December, 1998, a looming deadline imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had owners of underground fuel storage tanks scrambling. The agency had enacted tough regulations requiring corrosion protection and spill and leak protection of tanks, forcing gas station operators to either upgrade them, replace them, or simply remove them.
As a result, a new type of fuel system known as above-ground storage and dispensing systems came into vogue, offering an easier option. Companies who sold the systems, like Bryant Fuel Systems, began to prosper. But Bryant, based in Bakersfield, California, didn’t just smell a quick buck and get into the business overnight. They had already been established ten years earlier to design and manufacture above-ground storage systems after foreseeing a long-range need. Now, with about 20 employees, George Adam, contracting and sales manager, describes the company as “a small emerging business.”
Sensing the difficulties of USTs and their ever-tightening regulations, a group of people joined forces to start Bryant Fuel Systems in 1988. Adam, the only founding member still with the company, recalls, “There were a small handful of folks with different areas of expertise. I came from a military background. We had some folks from the petroleum industry and engineering involved in starting the company.” He continues, “A couple of our founding members realized that underground tanks were coming under closer scrutiny, and we approached the regulatory entities in California about the possibilities of building above-ground tanks and, in particular, complete or integrated or packaged systems, and asked them what would be entailed to garner their approval.”
While underground storage tanks (USTs) still see use where space is a deciding factor, such as at a downtown or corner gas station, their disadvantages are obvious. Steel ones corrode over time and develop leaks, allowing liquid to seep into surrounding soil and eventually the groundwater. Even fiberglass versions can develop holes in them. And because they’re hidden underground, it’s difficult to tell when a problem occurs, assess the extent of it, and do anything about it.
Accordingly, regulatory and testing requirements for USTs have become increasingly stringent. Compliance includes the installation, maintenance, and periodic testing of leak detection and containment systems. Closure of UST systems requires the cleaning, removal, and disposal of not only the tank but piping, dispensing equipment, and wastes generated during their cleaning. Soil samples and groundwater samples must be collected and analyzed.
Originally subcontracting all its manufacturing, Bryant sold its first fuel system in 1989. In 1992, the company began operating its own manufacturing facility, and in 1995, the company received a boost when it secured its first General Services Administration contract with the federal government. In 2001, the company was bought by Clayton Enterprises.
Bryant Fuel Systems manufactures storage tanks and fuel systems ranging in size from 250-gallon units to massive 50,000-gallon behemoths for diesel fuel, aviation fuels, and gasoline. They can also be used for petroleum, chemicals, and other industrial fluids. Customers include all branches of the federal government, including the Department of Defense, the State Department, NASA, and the U.S. Post Office. They also sell to state and local jurisdictions. Commercial customers include airports, trucking and construction companies, and farming and ranching operations.
Bryant’s above-ground storage (AST) systems come equipped with steel tanks attached to a steel dike, which acts as a secondary containment system in case of leaks or spills. Their systems typically have all the equipment for dispensing fuel, including pumps, meters, and electronic equipment, all within the dike. Installers use a fork lift or crane to put one in place, after which they’re ready to program and operate.
Anyone can see that above-ground refueling systems lower installation costs. But even more importantly, as Adam says, “With an above-ground system, if you have a problem, you can see it and fix it.” And when it comes time to move one, you can easily relocate and operate it somewhere else.
In designing its AST systems, Bryant takes an approach that involves outsourcing most of the engineering work, Adam states, “Virtually every project involves significant engineering in one form or another.” They have one engineer on staff, Paul Bench, who interfaces with customers and prospects to provide mechanical, site plan, and shop drawings. He also works with engineers they contract with outside the company.
When they require stamped drawings or permitting, Bryant calls on three or four outside engineers they use regularly. These include David Schnabel, a retired Army lieutenant colonel; Process Unlimited in Bakersfield, which has extensive oilfield experience; and E-Marc, another Bakersfield firm. They have also worked with well-known firms such as CH2M Hill and Jacobs Engineering. “We recently put in two fuel systems at Fort Knox and spent a long time working with Jacobs on that project. So a lot of time, we’ll interact with firms the government is contracted with for site design-build projects, where our fuel system may be just a portion of the project,” Adam explains. When they put in a 30,000-gallon system for the Navy at China Lake, California to rapid-refuel military aircraft, Steve Cebell of E-Marc interfaced with Navy engineers on site and also with the Navy petroleum office and naval air systems office in Washington, D.C.
Another engineer Bryant uses is John Gittins, a P.E. in California with a strong background in environmental engineering and regulatory compliance. “John not only helps us with system design but frequently does a lot of the permitting. So if we’ve got to make system modifications or changes for the sake of code compliance, he works the entire issue for us,” according to Adam.
In recent years, Bryant has come up with a new form of above-ground tank known as a stackable fuel system. This takes the shape of a containerized freight module like that seen stacked on cargo ships, so it ships long distances easily like other forms of freight. “That was a very extensive engineering effort to design a fuel system especially for the military, but it has some commercial applications as well,” Adam reports. The firm collaborated on this with Radian, an engineering firm in Virginia that works on petroleum and fuel handling equipment for the military.
In 2002, Bryant set off in yet another innovative direction when the company helped develop processing equipment for biodiesel, an emerging alternative fuel. “For the alternative fuels market, the starting gun has gone off,” as Adam puts it. They’ve built several plants that process biodiesel fuel under contract to another company, with two going in at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and one for Kansas City Power and Light. And they’re building another system for the Bonneville Power Administration in Vancouver, Washington that will pump biodiesel or E-85, a mixture of unleaded gas and ethanol. Adam sees the market in alternative fuels burgeoning as tax advantages take effect and clean air requirements get stricter on diesel. “I’m getting calls just about daily.” These systems will mainly fuel passenger vehicles in government agency fleets, which have been required to use alternative fuels.
With all this going on, Adam reports, “Things look very positive the next 18 to 24 months. Hopefully, our engineering workload is going to grow. Whether that means we look to bring another person on board full-time or expand our outsourcing, I don’t know which direction we might take.” Which ever way they go, they should stay busy for years to come offering an environmentally friendly replacement for underground storage tanks.
As featured on progressiveengineer.com
Editor: Tom Gibson
2049 Crossroads Drive, Lewisburg, PA 17837
570-568-8444 • firstname.lastname@example.org
©2004 Progressive Engineer
Aircraft Refueling at Regional Airports
by John Gittins, P.E.
Interested in attracting more traffic to your regional airport? The availability of aircraft refueling services on a continuous (24/365) basis can be a feature that makes your facility more convenient to, and more frequently used by, aircraft operators. Fuel management systems are available that allow your facility to make retail sales around the clock on a self-serve basis.
Concerned about the increasing costs for the installation, re-certification, maintenance, management, environmental liability, and future closure of operating an underground storage and dispensing system? Aboveground storage and dispensing systems have evolved, and can offer a more cost effective option for providing aircraft refueling services.
Concerned that your fueling system needs may change and that you would be stuck with what you currently have? Aboveground systems are available that are easily relocatable, and also can be resold as “ready to plug in and use” systems.
Issues With Underground Systems The last five years have seen the lapse of regulatory compliance deadlines for various underground storage tank (UST) system features. Systems installed or upgraded to meet the December 1998 deadline for corrosion protection, overfill protection and spill protection have needed to upgrade again to meet more recent under-dispenser containment and enhanced leak detection requirements. Compliance with the more recent regulations has included the installation, maintenance and periodic testing of additional containment and release detection systems. Ongoing compliance for the tank and piping systems involve several components. First, inventory reconciliation, which includes integrity testing at a required frequency of once every one to three years. Other components are maintaining the detection equipment and records of compliance. Additionally, a written Monitoring Program and Response Plan are required for the operation of a UST system.
Installation of UST systems typically requires five to six weeks of field work for completion. Subsurface conditions, such as large boulders or a high water table, can significantly increase installation time and costs. A concrete pad is often needed over the UST. Although it increases the cost, installing the UST deep can sometimes avoid the need for a concrete pad over the tank. A concrete pad is needed around the tank fills, whether the tank fills are above the UST or remote to it. Fuel dispensers, and their fuel management systems, are typically mounted on a concrete fuel island and protected by crash posts.
Leak detection systems, and periodic integrity tests, give warning of a release from a UST system. These precautions do not eliminate the potential for a subsurface release of fuel from a UST system. Closure of UST systems requires the cleaning, removal and authorized disposal of the UST, piping, dispensing equipment, and any wastes generated during their cleaning. Soil samples, and sometimes groundwater samples, are collected and analyzed. A closure report must be prepared and submitted to the local regulatory agency, for determining if further action is required. If necessary, an investigation and remediation of contaminated soil and/or groundwater may be required.
Features With Aboveground Systems Aboveground storage tanks (AST) and dispensing systems have evolved to where they can be delivered to your facility ready to be “plugged in” and used. Systems such as those manufactured by Bryant Fuel Systems (Bakersfield, California) are completely assembled and tested at the factory. These systems are equipped with steel primary tanks attached to steel skid/dike secondary containment systems.
The dike system integrates a structural wall with the skid, to provide vehicle impact protection, including protection from winged aircraft. These skid-mounted systems do not need to have crash posts, concrete containment slab and concrete curbing installed, which makes it easy (and less costly) for their relocation.
These skid-mounted systems have all fuel-containing equipment within the system’s secondary containment. The tank, tank fill connections, dispensers, pumps, piping, and any leakage, are contained within the steel dike area and are easily inspected visually. System emergency shutdown push buttons are mounted on each tank system’s dike wall, at a proper distance from dispensers. Deadman controls in the hand of the person fueling the aircraft provide an immediate dispenser shut off. Explosion-proof area lighting can come already mounted on these systems, which provides safely use during hours of darkness. Site improvements prior to delivery typically include: electrical power from an existing circuit panel; communications/data line from existing telephone board; and sometimes paving. Connecting electrical conductors to the system’s control panel and communications/data cable to the fuel management system are the on-site tasks needed to have a running system.
Requirements for installing an AST and dispensing systems are generally delineated by your state or local fire authority. The local fire authority tends to follow one of the three most referenced national fire codes (NFPA, UFC, IFC). Annual registration fees for AST systems range from no fee to being similar to fees for UST systems.
A written Spill Prevention Controls and Countermeasures Plan is required for the operation of an AST system. Aboveground tanks require integrity testing once every ten years.
Aboveground refueling systems tend to have significantly lower installation costs in comparison to underground refueling systems. The costs to install an aboveground refueling system in Riverside County, California is found to be typically 20 percent lower than the costs to install a comparable underground refueling system.
Closure of AST systems varies from no requirements to requiring a few soil samples collected and analyzed from the soil beneath the system’s location. AST system’s (such as those manufactured by Bryant Fuel Systems) can be sold to be reused at another facility. Power is disconnected at the system’s control panel, the system is loaded onto a flatbed trailer, and the system is transported to the next owner’s facility.
Making Fuel Management Systems Work for You Fuel management systems are the key to cost savings in operating a refueling system. Systems (such as Fuel Master by Syn-Tech Systems, Inc.) are proven rugged and reliable in all sorts of environments. Fuel management systems allow for complete self-serve operations, or for quick completion of sale at the pump when providing full-serve operations. The system’s card reader can authorize credit card sales and/or billing account sales. Receipts can be provided at the fuel management system. Receipts can also be customized on-site with any message you wish to provide. A real-time on-site journal printer can provide hard copy backups of all transactions.
Fuel management software, loaded on a personal computer that is connected to the fuel management system, can also allow the easy creation of standard or customized reports. These reports can allow the operator to see month-to-date and year-to-date deliveries and transactions. The software allows for easy generation of customer invoices. The fuel management system features allow for labor savings from unattended self-served sales and easy customer invoicing.
Contact with customers during unattended self-serve sales can be provided by a telephone installed on the aboveground refueling system. The telephone can be programed to call the telephone number of customer service personnel upon lifting the handset from the receiver. The telephone will give the system users a person to speak to if they have questions or are experiencing problems. The fuel management system’s display can be programmed to post an instructive message for the user to read (such as “please fully retrieve fuel hose, deadman control and antistatic line in their reels”). Another safety feature the fuel management system can provide during unattended sales is its ability to limit the quantity of fuel to be dispensed per transaction.
Benefits Summary The availability or increased capacity of aircraft refueling can be a key to the growth of your airport. Phoenix Regional Airport (Phoenix, Arizona) has found that the availability of fuel at their facility has been very important in drawing attention to their airport. Most important, the amount of traffic to their airport for fuel has dramatically increased since they began advertising fuel availability on their website. Fuel management systems allow for cost-effective ways to provide continuous refueling services (24/365). System features allow for labor savings from unattended self-served sales and easy customer invoicing. A telephone installed at the refueling system can give the system users a person to speak to if they have questions or are experiencing problems. Full-serve sales can be completed quickly at the pump by using the fuel management system’s card reader and receipt printer.
The ability to easily relocate your aircraft refueling system has great value to lots of airport managers. Scott Ries, President of Phoenix Regional Airport, found this feature to be very important for the development of Phoenix Regional Airport. This has allowed them the ability to have aircraft refueling even before they have completed their facility’s master plan. He has deemed the aboveground refueling system necessary as a marketing tool for their airport. The elimination of a potential underground leak, by installing a skid/mounted aboveground refueling system (manufactured by Bryant Fuel Systems), was also a plus,
Cost differences for the installation of aboveground refueling systems compared to underground refueling systems can be 20 percent less. The labor and costs to keep an underground refueling system in regulatory compliance are much greater than those for an aboveground refueling system. Operating and maintaining an underground refueling system has a more extensive amount of regulations and requirements to follow in comparison with aboveground refueling systems. A big difference is also found in comparing the closure costs for USTs to the resale value of the skid/mounted aboveground systems.
How quick will be the installation costs payback period for a new aboveground refueling system at your facility? A recent look at the net sales price for 10011 and Jet A at a Southern California airport found 10011 at $1.14 per gallon and Jet A at $1.33 per gallon. That same airport (at its current fuel volume) is projecting a payback period of three months for two skid/mounted aboveground refueling systems being installed in March 2004.
New Tanks Installed at Fuel Farm
By Mona Alkhafl
Public Works Department
Three self-contained fuel pods have been received by the Naval Air Weapons Station Public Works Department. The 12,000-gallon tanks are unique above-ground storage replacing outdated underground storage. The Naval An Weapons Station is the first Navy installation to receive the state of the art fuel system. Invented by Billy Bryant of Bryant Fuel Systems, Bakersfield, each tank is equipped with an alarm that rings when the tank is full. special filters that filter out water, a system to regularly circulate the fuel to filter it, and a “dead man” automatic shut-down device. An additional environmental “plus” is the tub designed to hold 100 percent of the tank’s capacity in the event of a leak.
Each tank meets or exceeds all Environmental Protection Agency standards and also has vapor recovery systems that are certified by both California and New York, the only states with clean air standards. “All the others are afraid to try to meet the EPA standards so they try to go around them, but now that I Mow how just let them catch up with me,” stated Bryant. Two of the tanks in the new fuel farm will store a portion of the 5.4 thou-sand barrels of diesel the NAWS uses annually. The remaining tank will hold unleaded gasoline for distribution to remote sites including Randsburg Wash, 10B, Junction Ranch, etc.
Site preparation for the tanks was minimal, with link engineering design costs involved. While the concrete slabs cure, the electrical hookups can be completed making the facility ready for business in approximately four weeks.