Companies Partner to Bring Turnkey Aboveground Fueling Solution to U.S. Gas Stations
The new solution from Gas Pos and AMS Energy Technologies is a fraction of the cost of underground overhauling.
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Equipment as a Service (EaaS) provider Gas Pos and AMS Energy Technologies (AMS) are coming together to transform the economic and environmental dynamics of distressed gas stations across the United States with the country's first turnkey portable aboveground gas station (PAGS) solution.
The solution, according to the companies, comes at a time when gas stations face decaying underground tank systems and the resulting insurmountable costs of regulatory "red tagging" and tank renovation — especially smaller, often family-owned businesses. A PAGS provides a flexible, future-ready, environmentally superior, and 100 percent compliant solution at a fraction of the cost of underground overhauling.
"Both gas station owners and consumers are suffering right now. Store owners often can't afford to upgrade, leading the state to red tag the station or outright shut them down," said Joshua Smith, CEO of Gas Pos. "In a world where fuel supplies are already limited and gas prices are skyrocketing, taking supply off the market only exacerbates our problems. We're here to help both owners and consumers."
Although aboveground tank systems are commonly used for propane, natural gas, hydrogen, and many other fuels in North America, they are rare for gasoline and diesel because of costs and regulatory constraints. This contrasts with many markets in Asia, where aboveground fuel systems have been in regular use for nearly three decades.
A PAGS use cases typically fall into three scenarios:
Conventional underground tank upgrading requires digging all tank infrastructure out of the ground, potentially including plumbing and electrical. With PAGS, all underground equipment can potentially be left in place until time and cost make excavation feasible. All PAGS equipment deploys onto the site surface and can typically be running within a short period of time. Gas Pos estimates that PAGS deployment "can be done for 80 percent less than the cost of digging everything out and dropping in new underground tanks."
It typically takes about 10 months to go from breaking ground to a finished gas station with underground storage and a convenience store. PAGS will deploy significantly faster and at roughly one-third the cost of a traditional gas station.
Station owners may wish to add a new fuel, such as diesel, while preserving their existing (and perfectly compliant) underground tank systems. PAGS offers this capability in a fraction of the time and cost required for underground additions.
According to Ethan Henderson, director of operations at AMS, a PAGS can be installed at sites that have never had a gas station. One example is a deployment in Nevada, where the town was built on a large aquifer, and the town council never wanted to risk contamination from an underground fuel system. However, because PAGS technology met all environmental regulations and posed so little long-term risk, the town approved a PAGS gas station.
"We seized on a regulatory change in 2008 that allowed for the development and patenting of several technologies around PAGS innovations," he explained. "It meets UL, ANSI, and other regulations — and then some. The testing process is rigorous for the PAGS UL2085 rating, with tests including two hours in a 2,000-degree furnace, 12,000-lb per square inch impact testing, and ballistics testing with several high caliber rounds, all of which are performed sequentially to push success to the limit. These systems are incredibly safe, and the regulations for success ensure that."
PAGS are deploying in 22 states.
Better for the Environment
From an environmental standpoint, not only does PAGS carry far less risk of leaks or other conventional hazards, but it also makes installing on-tank filtration for fuel cleaning easy. Filtration removes dirt, sludge, and refining process distillates that creep into tanks over time.
Additionally, filtration can prevent ethanol from being tainted by water from ambient moisture in the air, which decreases octane and causes engine problems. Operators can also easily install cleaning devices on PAGS to prevent algae growth and meet new and emerging fuel standards.
AMS' Henderson notes that many station owners won't want to commit to another 20 years of underground tanks at a time when electric and other "green" technologies are gaining market adoption. AMS has even aligned itself with an electric vehicle (EV) charging manufacturer so that EV charging can be installed concurrently with PAGS systems, when desired.
"A lot of change will happen in this space over the next five to ten years," said Henderson. "That means this aboveground solution makes a lot more sense than continuing with underground, because you just don't know what's coming. The track record for underground tanks, both economically and environmentally, is terrible. PAGS fixes this."
A Costly History
In 1999, a regulatory change mandated that all underground tanks for petroleum products or other hazardous waste must feature two walls to prevent leaking. Many stations waited until the deadline to begin installing the more expensive, safer tanks. As a result, stations with tanks older than 23 years are faced with a dual problem: Those tanks are likely out of warranty and are sufficiently aged as to be more prone to leaks and failure. Out-of-warranty tanks may not even be coverable by private insurance, and those that do cover it will likely not do so for an extended time, Smith explained.
It is estimated that up to 90 percent of North America's roughly 180,000 fueling systems may be in violation of their underground tank storage covenants. Although store owners want to be compliant and update their tank systems, the costs associated with doing so can be crippling, according to Dr. Ron F. Sickles with Accredited Fuel Solutions Inc.
"The average cost of a new gas station with four gas dispensers and associated petroleum equipment such as underground storage tanks, concrete footings, piping, spill buckets, etc. is in the millions. The average cost to replace existing gas station components with new pumps, tanks, and accessories is $200,000-$300,000. Not to mention several months to make these changes compared to several weeks for an Aboveground Storage Tank, (AST) system," he said.
"This doesn't take into consideration the environmental impact that Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) put on the owner, station location and the ongoing maintenance necessary to stay compliant with the local, state, and federal regulatory agencies," he continued. "If the location has the necessary footprint to accommodate an AST system utilizing the latest environmentally compliant storage, infrastructure, and dispensing system, you will produce a station that is easier to maintain, environmentally safer, and less costly to install and operate."
North Little Rock-based Gas Pos is the fastest-growing Equipment as a Service (EaaS) program for gas stations and truck stops across the United States. By combining a modern fuel point of sale system, new EMV Compliant gas pumps and payment processing, Gas Pos helps owners upgrade their gas station at a lower cost.
AMS Technologies is a leading solution provider and distributor of high-tech, leading-edge components, systems and equipment, with more than 35 years of experience to date and currently serving more than 2,000 European customers. It owns the exclusive U.S. retail rights to PAGS.