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Section I


Description of System

Packaged products shipped by ocean freight are received at dry-cargo port or beach facilities and those shipped by airfreight are received at air terminals. Packaged products are stored at general support supply bases and distributed through direct support supply organizations to consumers throughout the theater. Bulk fuels not locally procured are received from ocean tankers at marine petroleum terminals. Bulk fuels are transferred by pipeline to tank farms. Figure 2-1 shows the bulk petroleum distribution system in a developed theater. The system includes discharge facilities, which include tanker moorings, piers, docks, and piping manifolds at ports, sea terminals, or at other points of entry; inland tank farms; storage terminals; and other petroleum storage facilities. It also includes pump stations and pipelines.

  • Large-scale combat operations may justify construction of welded or coupled pipelines to move bulk fuels from communications zone (COMMZ) storage locations to the combat zone. Airbases and tactical airfields are serviced by the pipeline system when feasible. Hoselines are used to service smaller or temporary large-volume requirements. The pipeline system extends as far forward as possible, usually into the corps rear area, with hoseline extensions into corps storage sites. Since bulk petroleum makes up over 50 percent of the tonnage moved in the theater of operations, pipelines significantly reduce other transportation requirements (rail and highway) and congestion. The system is supplemented by other means of bulk delivery, such as barges, rail tank cars, tank vehicles, and aircraft. Branch lines are used where practical to supply major users from the main pipeline. Hoselines are used as temporary means of supply to general support suppliers. Tank vehicles, rail tank cars, and hoselines are used to move bulk petroleum products from general to direct support echelons. Bulk transporters usually move bulk fuel from the direct support echelon to using units. Using units are authorized organic equipment to receive the bulk products and to refuel their vehicles and aircraft without resorting to cans and drums. The following are basic principles of petroleum distribution:
    • Continuity of pipeline operations is maintained by multiple modes of communication (teletype, radio, and telephone) along the pipeline.
    • The basic petroleum operating concept is to keep storage tankage full at all times. The schedule for movement of fuel through the system is based on available ullage and product demand.
    • Pipeline surveillance is essential to detect leaks, sabotage, toxic chemical agent contamination, damage, and pilferage. A combination of walking, motorized, and observation aircraft patrols and air mobile security teams is necessary for patrolling the system.
    • The use of packaged fuel is limited to the minimum amount needed for continuous support. Bulk reduction is performed as near to the intended consumer as practicable to reduce transportation requirements.
    • Distribution is made from bulk terminals and storage areas to the consumer by pipeline, hoseline, rail tank car, barge, tank vehicle, and aircraft. Some local distribution is made by tank vehicles that are organic to the petroleum pipeline and terminal operating companies. Line-haul operations are usually carried out by transportation medium truck companies (petroleum) assigned to the petroleum group, petroleum battalions, or corps support command.

    • Packaged products are distributed by ground, air, and water transport.
    • Rail tank cars and tank vehicles are used to deliver bulk products to using units whenever the lines of communication are secure. When lines of communication are not secure, aircraft carrying collapsible tanks, 500-gallon collapsible drums, and 55-gallon drums are used. Helicopters are used to move 500-gallon drums internally or by sling load. Cargo aircraft may also be used to transport containers and dispensing equipment to forward areas. Air Force capabilities for delivering petroleum products are discussed in section IV of chapter 3.
  • In a theater of operations, a bulk distribution system using pipelines and hoselines reduces the need to haul fuel by road or rail. Also, fewer combat service support personnel are needed to operate a pipeline system as compared to using other modes of transportation or operating a packaged petroleum supply distribution system.

Planning for Bulk Petroleum Supply

Planning for petroleum supply support parallels, in general, the pattern of planning outlined in FM 101-5. Time, space, distances, terrain, existing resources, scope of requirements, and the operating environment are all planning factors. One of the most important planning elements for petroleum support is requirements computation. Supply publications (especially SB 710-2), FM 101-10-1, and STANAG 2115 (appendix D) contain planning data for Class III supplies that are particularly helpful, and they should be used by the petroleum planner in coordination with engineer theater development planning.

  • Planning Elements. Petroleum supply planning involves five major elements--

    • Amount and type of product to be distributed (requirements).
    • Receipt and distribution points (storage locations).
    • Distribution system or method (transportation mode).
    • Equipment to be used (pump/pipeline equipment/rail/truck/boat).
    • Organizations and personnel required to operate the system and its equipment (units).

  • Planning Considerations. The petroleum supply system must be designed for the operations and climate of the specific theater. Plans must take into account--
    • The mission and force (size and composition) to be supported.
    • The requirements of that force.
    • Seasonal requirements.
    • The capability of installations and/or units (to include the host nation) to provide required support.

    • The speed with which pipelines and hoselines can be constructed and extended.
    • Requirements for terminals, offshore unloading facilities, and distribution points.
    • Requirements for both bulk and packaged products.
    • The availability of petroleum operating units and other units needed to construct, install, and maintain petroleum distribution and storage facilities and communications equipment.
    • Terrain, since this impacts both on the ability to install petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) facilities and POL usage factors.
  • Planning Categories. Petroleum supply planning falls into two basic categories-logistical and operational.

    • Logistical planning requires the translation of such factors as troop strengths, numbers and types of fuel-consuming equipment and vehicles, and tactical objectives into specific fuel requirements and distribution plans. Planning of this nature is started well in advance of actual operations at theater and theater-army level. The purpose of the planning is to insure that products, distribution facilities, and operating units and personnel will be available when needed.
    • Operational planning includes planning both for reaching the rated capacity of the distribution system and for maintaining that capacity to meet requirements placed upon it. This planning is carried on along with operations. Revisions may be necessary because of tactical developments, losses in handling capacity due to enemy action, and other factors that keep the system from operating as planned.

Supply Levels

The Department of the Army prescribes supply levels for the theater army in terms of days of supply. The theater army commander prescribes levels for the combat zone and the COMMZ.

  • For planning purposes only, a minimum of a 30-day theater supply level should be established for bulk fuel in the developed theater. In actual practice, this level may be greater than 30 days depending upon available tankage and other factors. The major portion of the theater level is maintained in the COMMZ. See figure 2-2.

  • Supply levels must take into account the needs of all users, including Air Force, Navy, and allies (when so designated).

Host Nation Support

In wartime, when logistical support from their own system may not be readily available, US combat forces maybe supplied through agreements with a host nation. In this case, the host nation supplies US forces with common items and services. The type and amount of support provided should, if possible, be specified in signed agreements and included in wartime logistical plans of all nations concerned. The amount of support--civil or military--that a host nation can provide depends on its national laws, its industrial capability, its economy, and its willingness to give such support. Regardless of the difficulty in obtaining host nation support agreements, they should be aggressively pursued.

  • Host nation resources will most likely support the COMMZ, the corps, and the divisional areas, as appropriate. Host nation support, if available, can significantly reduce support requirements.

  • Procedures for mutual support among NATO nations are contained in directives agreed upon for civil military cooperation (CIMIC). A host nation can be requested to provide civil resources, including facilities, food, services, or labor. National or allied commanders submit requests for CIMIC support to the territorial command of the host nation. Where possible, and preferable, national/allied CIMIC agreements are made with the host nation in peacetime.

Section II



In the developed theater, an existing petroleum distribution system is normally operating in support of the peacetime civilian economy and military forces. However, to support the tactical situation it may be necessary to modify the present system, renovate old facilities, or build new ones. Whenever possible, active duty US Army personnel should be trained to operate existing distribution systems.

Tanker Loading and Unloading Facilities

Existing tanker loading and unloading facilities in a developed theater may require supplemental facilities. These facilities may include tanker moorings, wharfs, docks, mooring buoys, shore booster and transfer pump stations, and storage tanks. Additional information on such facilities is contained in TMs 5-301-1 (Army Facilities Components System - Planning (Temperate)), 5-301-2 (Army Facilities Components System - Planning (Tropical)), 5-301-3 (Army Facilities Components System - Planning (Frigid)), 5-301-4 (Army Facilities Components System -Planning (Desert)), 5-302-1 (Army Facilities Components System Designs; Vol I), 5-302-2 (Army Facilities Components System - Designs; Vol II), 5-303 (Army Facilities Components System Planning Logistic Data and Bills of Materials), 5-343 (Military Petroleum Pipeline Systems), and in FMs 10-18 (Petroleum Terminal and Pipeline Operations) and 10-69 (Petroleum Supply Point Equipment and Operations). Because of the hazards involved in handling petroleum products, installations near tanker loading and unloading facilities must be protected against fire. When new facilities are built, fire protection, dispersion, security, collective protection, and safety matters must be considered. Tanker facilities should be able to load or unload the largest scheduled tanker in 24 hours or less. Table 2-1 gives statistics on tankers. The T-5 and the Handy-Size tanker are used as the standard for military planners. Docks and piers are preferred to offshore moorings for loading and unloading.


A petroleum terminal can be a single tank farm or a complex of dispersed tank farms with varying capacities. The number of tank farms in the terminal depends on the storage capacity required; however, standard installations usually have capacities of 50,000 to 250,000 barrels in increments of 50,000 barrels. Tank farms are connected by pipelines and manifolded so that more than one petroleum product can be moved into, out of, and between storage tanks and tank farms as required for storage and distribution.

  • Capacity Required. The total amount of tankage required depends on the fuel requirements to support the theater supply level. Factors to be considered in determining storage requirements are phased requirements for product, rate of fuel consumption, frequency of deliveries, tanker capacities, port capabilities, and tanker turnaround time between the theater source of supply and the pipeline base terminal. Probable losses and delays due to enemy action and weather and the operating capacity of the pipeline and other means of transportation must also be considered.

  • Types of Tanks. Two basic types of storage tanks are used in petroleum supply systems in a developed theater: permanent welded steel tanks and semipermanent bolted steel tanks. Although permanent welded steel tanks are preferred, semipermanent bolted steel tanks are used if additional tankage is required and construction time is limited. If available, collapsible fabric tanks may be substituted. Specifications and other information about such tanks are contained in TM 5-343 and FM 10-69.

    • The floating-roof, welded steel storage tank (American Petroleum Institute (API) standard 650) is best for storing volatile products (AVGAS, MOGAS, and JP-4), When this tank is not available in the military supply system, other tanks conforming to API standard 650 may be used. Military and commercial welded steel tanks of all types may be found in a developed theater.

    • Semipermanent bolted steel tanks are type-classified in sizes of 100-, 250-, 500-, 1,000-, 3,000-, and 10,000-barrel capacities.

  • Location and Layout. To meet the tactical situation, existing petroleum terminals in the developed theater may require modification or additional terminals may have to be constructed. The general locations of required terminals will be given in the theater petroleum distribution plan. The location, as well as the size and number of terminals, depends on tactical, logistical, and other military considerations. The primary planning consideration is flexibility to insure continuity of distribution if one or more terminals are destroyed by enemy action. Distribution systems designed for peacetime may have to be altered to compensate for the enemy's capability to destroy them in time of war. Other factors in determining location and layout are the requirements for efficient operation, control, and dispersion. The petroleum distribution system is a compromise between military necessity on the one hand and technical efficiency on the other. A discussion of the engineering considerations and factors that influence the selection of specific sites and the design, construction, and layout of terminals appear in TM 5-302-1, TM 5-302-2, TM 5-343, and FM 10-18. An example of a petroleum distribution system is shown in figure 2-3.

  • Base Terminals. The base terminal is the initial bulk petroleum storage facility in a developed theater. It is located at a port or wherever fuel is introduced into the theater. A theater may have more than one base terminal. Because it is a prime military target, the use of alternate facilities should be considered. These should be widely dispersed so that they cannot be destroyed or critically damaged by a single attack. The base terminal is usually the largest single bulk fuel installation of a pipeline system; therefore, in order to receive tanker deliveries, the area selected for its location must provide room for future expansion.

  • Intermediate Terminals. Usually, the pipeline system in a developed theater extends many miles and will have one or more intermediate terminals. These are located where branch pipelines leave the main line and serve as reserve storage and dispensing facilities and as regulating tankage. The tactical situation will determine the size of an intermediate terminal and the amount of product that must be distributed in that area.

  • Head Terminals. A head terminal, also called a "pipehead terminal," is located at the end of a pipeline system farthest inland. Usually, welded and/or bolted steel tanks are used at a head terminal in a developed theater. However, when engineer support is limited, collapsible tanks may be used. The head terminal is placed as close to the corps support area as feasible.
  • Regulating Tank Installations. A pipeline system may include regulating tankage installations in addition to normal pipeline terminals. The primary function of regulating tankage is to maintain a source of supply of products for forward movement through the pipeline or to store products at an intermediate location when there is an interruption in flow to the head terminal. Their use reduces delay in delivering products forward. They may be placed at pump stations between base and head terminals. Their number and location depend on the quantity of products handled and the capability of the pipelines system. These installations are also used as reserve storage sites.


Petroleum pipelines can move large volumes of fuels rapidly without burdening other modes of transport. In developed theaters, welded, buried, high-pressure cathodically protected pipelines are widely used in commercial and military systems. The total pipeline system may include or may be expanded using coupled pipeline and flexible hoseline. Pipe and tubing are discussed below. Hoseline is discussed in chapter 3. For a more detailed coverage, refer to TM 5-343, FM 10-18, and FM 10-20.

  • Standard-weight Pipe. Standard-weight pipe is manufactured to the specifications of the American Petroleum Institute (API) and is referred to as API STD5L pipe. It is made in diameters of 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, and 22 inches, but the Army seldom stocks pipe over 12 inches in diameter. It comes in 20-foot lengths grooved for coupling (victaulic) and in random lengths beveled for welding. This is the pipe used in submarine and river-crossing lines and in lines operated at high pressures.
  • Lightweight tubing. Lightweight tubing is made of light gage steel with API STD5L nipples welded to each end, It comes in 4-, 6-, 8-, and 12-inch diameters and 20-foot lengths. Because of its thin walls, lightweight tubing is not used for buried or submerged lines or in populated areas.

Pump Stations

Pump stations are necessary to push products through the pipeline, feed the pipeline, and transfer fuel between tanks and dispensing outlets. Additional information on pump stations is included in FM 10-18 and in chapter 3 of this manual.

Dispensing Facilities

Dispensing facilities are located at points where bulk fuel is transferred from one means of transportation to another or where fuel is packaged or delivered to using vehicles. Dispensing facilities are installations such as tank vehicle and rail tank car loading facilities, retail vehicle filling stations, can and drum-filling points, airfields, and fuel supply installations.

Rail Tank Car Facilities

Standard American tank cars usually have one compartment and range in capacity from 6,000 to 13,000 gallons. Jumbo cars have a 20,000-gallon capacity, In oversea theaters, personnel should routinely expect to use rail tank cars manufactured in the country of operation. Because there are differences in the design and capacity of tank cars, particularly between standard American and foreign cars, the design of loading facilities at tank farms where cars are filled and at the delivery points where they are unloaded varies. Loading and unloading facilities may be designed to serve from one car up to a full train at the same time depending on the demand. Information on constructing loading facilities is in TM 5-302. Information on cleaning tank cars is in FM 10-20.

Tank Vehicle Facilities

Facilities for loading and unloading tank vehicles must be provided in any distribution system. The type of facility used depends upon its location in the theater, the size of the military operation, resources available, etc. Provisions must be made for both top and bottom loading tank vehicles. In some situations, a fuel system supply point maybe used; in others, a permanent structure with greater capacity may be required. TM 5-302-1 shows a standard two-station loading facility (drawing 12-43).

Barge Facilities

In some instances, barges may be the most economical means of moving bulk fuel inland. When such is the case, existing loading facilities may be expanded or new facilities constructed. Drawing 12-04 in TM 5-302-1 shows a facility for barges and small vessels.

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