Risk factors and loss prevention during Olive Oil Bulk Transportation

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Product information

Product name

German – Olivenöl
English – Olive oil
French – Huile d’olive
Spanish – Aceite de oliva
Scientific – Olea europaea
CN/HS number * 1509 ff.

(* EU Combined Nomenclature/Harmonized System)

Product description

“Oils” is a collective term for more or less viscous, generally organic-chemical liquids. Depending on their chemical composition, a distinction may be drawn between fatty, essential, mineral and silicone oils. Fatty oils include liquid, semisolid and solid products of vegetable and animal origin. They are also known as sweet oils.

Olive oil is of vegetable origin and is obtained by expression from the flesh of the fruit (olives) of the olive tree. It is a fine, high-quality edible oil. Olive oil is of a light yellow to golden yellow color and has the typically slightly sweetish odor and flavor of olives. Cold-pressed olive oil is also known as virgin olive oil, which is particularly valuable. It is highly fluid, bright and clear. Hot-pressed olive oil is brown (2nd pressing oil).

Quality / Duration of storage
The acid value of an oil may be used as a measure of quality. However, the acid value of the oil must not be too high, as this denotes an excessively high content of free fatty acids, which causes the oil to turn sour. Discoloration may also occur. Olive oil should have an acid value of at most 2.0%.

Oils and fats spoil by readily becoming rancid. Rancidity is promoted by light, atmospheric oxygen and moisture and leads to changes in odor and taste. Thus, the tanks and barrels must be filled as full as possible, taking into consideration the coefficient of cubic expansion (see Density), so that as little ullage space as possible is left above the cargo. Do not load rancid oil, since it does not meet quality requirements.

Do not accept for loading olive oil contaminated by ferrous and rust particles or by seawater.

Maximum duration of storage is as follows:
Temperature Max. duration of storage Source
15°C (optimum) 4 months [1]
not too cool 2 – 3 years [10]

Intended use
Olive oil is used as an edible oil and in the textiles industry as well as in pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications.

Countries of origin
This Table shows only a selection of the most important countries of origin and should not be thought of as exhaustive.

Europe -Greece, Spain, Portugal, other Mediterranean countries
America – (West Coast, USA)

This oil is mainly transported in tanks, and only rarely in barrels.



Liquid cargo
General cargo
Means of transport
Ship, truck, railroad

Container transport
FlexiTank containers

Cargo handling
Normally, the oil does not need to be heated, since its solidification point is relatively low. However, if temperatures should arise during the voyage which are in the solidification range, the following must be noted: to be able to pump the oil out of the tanks, it must be at the required pumping temperature. This is only possible, however, if the oil has been kept liquid during the voyage (above a minimum temperature). Loading, travel and pumping temperatures must be precisely complied with, since any change in consistency which occurs during transport may prove irreversible.

If the oil solidifies in the tanks, it cannot be liquefied again even by forced heating. In the vicinity of the heating coils, the oil melts, scorches, discolors and becomes rancid.

Pumping out may be difficult in cold weather. The oil may cool too rapidly in the long lines and solid deposits form on the outer walls, which cannot be pumped out and prevent the still liquid cargo from reaching the suction valve. This problem can be solved by appropriate heating or insulation of the lines.

Where the oil is packaged in barrels, the latter have to be handled with appropriate care. Damaged barrels quickly lead to oil leakage and thus to loss of volume or to damage to other parts of the cargo.

0.914 – 0.919 g/cm3 (cold-pressed) [1]
0.920 – 0.925 g/cm3 (hot-pressed) [1]

All fats and oils have a particular density (approx. 0.9 g/cm3). With a rise in temperature, however, density diminishes, thereby leading at the same time to an increase in volume. This behavior is described by the coefficient of cubic expansion and is known as thermal dilatation.

The coefficient of cubic expansion amounts to: g = approx. 0.00072°C-1

As a rule of thumb, oils may be expected to increase in volume by 1% of their total volume for each 14°C temperature increase.

When filling the barrels or tanks, attention must however be paid to the expansion behavior of the cargo in the event of a rise in temperature (risk of bursting of barrels).

Stowage space requirements
Special tank

Not applicable to liquid cargoes in tanks

Cargo securing
In the case of liquid cargoes, it is important for the ullage space above the cargo to be as small as possible, so that only slight movement of the cargo is possible. Movement in liquid cargoes may have a negative effect on the stability of the means of transport (e.g. during cornering in the case of trucks and trains or when ships roll and pitch).

Barrels have to be secured in such a way that they cannot slip in the hold or on the loading area and suffer damage.

Risk factors and loss prevention

RF Temperature
Olive oil has no particular requirements as to storage climate conditions (SC 0).

The solidification temperature is of considerable significance in the transport of fatty oils and fats. They must remain liquid during loading, during the voyage and during unloading. Chill haze (separation) begins if cooling causes the temperature of the oil to approach solidification point, the oil becoming ointment-like and finally solid, such that it is no longer pumpable.

Separation and the associated change in consistency from liquid to solid occurs more readily upon cooling, the higher is the solidification point.

The oils must only be heated by a few °C per day, otherwise the risk of rancidity and other negative changes arises.

The following Table merely constitutes a rough estimate of appropriate temperature ranges. Temperatures may deviate from these values, depending on the particular transport conditions.

Designation Temperature range Source
Favorable travel temperature 15°C [1]
Solidification temperature 0 – -9°C [1]
Pumping temperature approx. 20°C

Under normal transport conditions, olive oil is liquid and therefore need not be heated. However, if temperatures should arise during the voyage which are in the solidification range, the oil has to be heated to prevent losses in quality and to achieve pumpability.
The travel temperature must be complied with as far as possible during transport, to minimize oxidation processes.
At 10°C, the oil separates. If the temperature falls to 6°C, olive oil assumes a semiliquid consistency, with 50% of the oil precipitating out. At 0°C, olive oil is buttery in consistency.

RF Humidity/Moisture
Fats and fatty oils are insoluble in water. However, contact with water may give rise to soluble lower fatty acids and glycerol, which cause rancidity together with changes in color (yellow to brown), odor and taste as well as gelling and thickening. For this reason, the tanks must be absolutely dry after cleaning.

RF Ventilation
Ventilation must not be carried out under any circumstances, as it would supply fresh oxygen to the cargo, which would promote oxidation processes and premature rancidity.

RF Biotic activity
Olive oil displays 3rd order biotic activity.
It belongs to the class of goods in which respiration processes are suspended, but in which biochemical, microbial and other decomposition processes still proceed.
Care of the cargo during the voyage must be aimed at keeping decomposition processes to a low level.

RF Gases
Before anybody enters an empty tank, it must be ventilated and a gas measurement carried out. Oxidation processes may lead to a life-threatening shortage of O2.

RF Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion
The oil may ignite spontaneously in conjunction with sawdust or material residues.

RF Odor
Active behavior – Olive oil has the odor typical of olives.
Passive behavior – Tanks and barrels must always be odor-free, since there is a risk that quality will be diminished in particular where the previous cargo had a strong odor.

RF Contamination
Active behavior Leaking oil leads to massive contamination and may make whole cargoes unusable.
Of considerable significance with regard to tank cleaning is the iodine value, which is a measure of how strong a tendency the oil has to oxidation and thus to drying. Drying is particularly detrimental to tank cleaning, as the oil/fat sticks to the walls and can be removed only with difficulty. On the basis of drying capacity, oils are divided into nondrying, semidrying and drying oils.
With an iodine value of 75 – 88, olive oil is a nondrying oil, which means that it does not dry significantly on contact with atmospheric oxygen and the tanks are easily cleaned.
Passive behavior Olive oil is sensitive to contamination by ferrous and rust particles and water (especially seawater).
The tanks or barrels must be clean and in a thoroughly hygienic condition before filling. Any contact with foreign substances results in a major reduction in quality of this valuable oil.

RF Mechanical influences
In the case of transport in barrels, extreme mechanical stresses, such as dropping, tipping over or bumping, may lead to breakage of the barrels and thus to leakage.

RF Toxicity / Hazards to health
Before anybody enters a tank, it must be ventilated and a gas measurement carried out. Oxidation processes may lead to a life-threatening shortage of O2.

RF Shrinkage/Shortage
Where this oil is packaged in barrels, weight loss from leakage is always to be expected.
Losses of up to 0.3% due to adhesion of the cargo to the tank walls may be deemed normal.

RF Insect infestation / Diseases
No risk.

Information source www.tis-gdv.de

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