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International Liquid Terminals Association
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What is a Liquid Terminal?

Liquid terminals and above-ground storage tank facilities (tank farms) interconnect with and provide services to the various modes of liquid transportation, including ships, barges, tank trucks, rail cars and pipelines. The commodities handled include a large variety of chemicals, along with crude oil, petroleum products, renewable fuels, asphalt, animal fats and oils, vegetable oils, molasses and fertilizers. The customers who store products at these facilities include oil producers and chemical manufacturers, product manufacturers, food growers and producers, utilities, transportation companies, commodity brokers, government agencies and the military.

A Terminal’s Role in Transportation and Distribution

Terminals are a vital component of our nation's supply chain, providing critical logistics services that spur trade both within the United States and connecting the U.S. economy with overseas markets. Importers and exporters of liquid commodities -- from crude oil to petrochemicals to food-grade products -- need terminals to connect them to their customers. Terminals do much more than store bulk liquids. Terminal operators provide essential logistics needed to transfer bulk liquids from one mode of transportation to another -- whether from ship to truck, from ship to barge or from pipeline to rail. For example, an oceangoing tanker carrying crude oil will arrive at a port and dock at a terminal where the oil is unloaded and transferred to a refinery. Likewise, a refined petroleum product, such as gasoline, will be shipped in large batches by pipeline to a distribution terminal. The fuel is initially stored at the terminal in above-ground storage tanks, and then loaded into tank trucks at the terminal's loading rack. The fuel is then delivered to retail gasoline stations, where it is transferred from the trucks to underground storage tanks that feed the pumps that supply gasoline to consumers.


Terminals Mean Jobs in Communities

Terminal members are located in more than 700 communities around the world. In each of these locations, these companies provide good-paying jobs, and they also pay property taxes to the local government. Whether these facilities are located in a port, on a river, or are connected to a pipeline, they are creating a positive economic impact in their local communities. Terminals offer employment opportunities in operations, engineering, environmental management, safety, information technology, security, sales, marketing, business development and many other disciplines.

Terminals Comply with Layers of Government Regulations

The U.S. liquid terminals industry complies with a host of regulations by federal, state and even local jurisdictions. Government regulations cover construction of, storage at and transportation to and from facilities, as well as environmental performance, facility safety, worker safety, facility security and emergency preparedness and response.

Read more about federal, state and local oversight plus the industry standards, guidelines and recommended practices followed by the industry by viewing and downloading our Regulatory Fact Sheet: