“Paint It Black” was a song released by The Rolling Stones on 13 May, 1966, as the first single from the band’s fourth album Aftermath.

Much to our disappointment, The Rolling Stones weren’t referring to the color we should paint our oil field tanks. . .

lease operating expense oil and gas

GreaseBook wants you to be aware of a well-known (yet often disregarded) fact: “heat transfer” poses a real threat to your company’s bottom line.


Basically, when the temperature of the oil in our tanks goes up, your total measureable (read: saleable) volume of oil goes down.

Ladies and gentleman, although we recognize that temperature is the largest modifier of total oil sales, we must ask ourselves, “what have we done to mitigate its effects on our bottom line?”

The quick answer? Probably nothing.

(Don’t worry, GreaseBook is here to help.)

When trying to counter the sun’s affects on our oil sales, we must take into account two major “phenomena” of our oil tanks: our tank’s ability to absorb/emit radiant energy and cool itself down (aka emissivity), and our tank’s ability to reflect the sun’s heat (aka reflectivity).

We know you’re in the oil & gas production business, not the tank production business… but bear with us (it’ll be worth it). . .

Now, a surface’s “emissivity” and “reflectivity” are both assigned values from 0 – 1. And (conveniently enough), these two phenomena are (1) inversely related, and (2) when added together equal 1.

For example, think about how the hot blacktop burns your bare feet in the summertime… standing off to the side in the dirt is much more comfortable to your uncovered feet.

Why is this so? 

Using our guidelines for “emissivity” and “reflectivity”, we could determine that asphalt has a thermal emissivity value of 0.90 and a thermal reflectance value of 0.10 (reflecting only 10% of the sun’s rays that are cast upon it and absorbing the rest – yikes!).

Conversely, think about one of those relflective shades with the big sunglasses you used to see on the dashboard of parked cars in the 1980s…

A material such as aluminum foil has a thermal emissivity value of 0.03 and a thermal reflectance value of 0.97 (meaning those goofy shades reflected 97% of the sun’s heat and allowed only 3% to pass… keeping your car nice and cool).

So, how does this tie into oil production and sales?

Many oil production tanks in operation are painted black. Furthermore, many times the paint used to cover these tanks is oil-based…

What’s the problem with black, oil-based paint?

The thermal emittance (ie absorbtion) of black, oil-based paint is 0.94… which means 94% of the suns heat is allowed to pass through and absorb into your tank’s walls.

You folks with the white tanks think you’re off any better? 

White oil-based paint clocks in at a whopping 0.96!

How does this affect your bottom line?

When an oil’s API is measured at the well head, the heat transfer from the sun through the wall of the oil storage tank has the potential to lower our measured API.

For example, if a reduction of an API of 40 to 38 occurs, the seller will lose 4% on his total sale.

What if it’s a scorcher, and your oil is reduced to an API of 25? 

You stand to take a 15% cut in pay from your purchaser.

“Paint it black”?! — not on GreaseBook’s watch!!

Now you’re asking: “So, what’s the best way to mitigate the sun’s negative effects on my oil sales?”

Check it out folks: next time you paint your tanks, use real aluminum paint.

Not only will the aluminum paint assist in deflecting much of the sun’s heat, but it will also allow your tank to cool down more easily, too.

Also, mixing some insulating paint additives into your paint can also work wonders at reducing heat transfer, too.

So, when considering your lease operating expenses, before you buy a new tank (or paint an old one), don’t listen to your decorator, your wife, or Mick Jagger… use real aluminum paint.

**If you liked htis article, you may also find this one interesting: Digital Oilfield – How the Digital Oilfield thwarts greedy oil purchasers…

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