Oil transfers and transfer inspections

Our oil transfer requirements apply to bulk oil-transfer operations moving product to or from vessels. These operations can happen at regulated facilities, between vessels, or at pier. We use inspections to ensure the use of proper equipment and procedures during transfers, including advance notice of the transfer operation and pre-booming of the transfer area.

Historically, bulk oil transfers contributed to the majority of spills in state waters. Our oil transfer rules help prevent these kinds of spills from non-recreational vessels. These rules apply to regulated facilities and vessels that deliver oil in bulk over or near navigable waters of the state.

Tanker loading cargo in Seattle. Tank vessel with a tug and barge tied up alongside. The Seattle shoreline is in the background and the waters of the Salish Sea are in the foreground.

At-anchor oil transfer inspections

In 2017, over 400 regulated oil transfers occurred at anchorage locations. We have the authority to conduct at-anchor inspections of oil transfer operations, which will begin in summer of 2018. 

Learn more about our at-anchor oil transfer inspections

Oil transfer requirements outline the procedures and equipment standards needed for safe oil transfers. Our oil transfer rules generally focus on the following elements:

  • Oil transfer equipment requirements.
  • Guidance and training for oil handling personnel.
  • Limitations on maximum work hours.
  • Communication and coordination between transfer personnel.
  • Twenty-four hour advance notice of oil transfers.
  • Applying boom prior to the transfer and weather restrictions.

Read more information about how this program applies to facilities and vessels.

Reporting transfers

Advance notice of transfer

Advance notice of transfer requirements typically apply to Class 1, 2, and 3 facilities and delivering vessels. The exception to the above is anyone delivering less than 100 gallons of oil may not have to provide advance notice of the transfer.

Semi-annual reporting

Equipment requirements


All regulated facilities must:

  • Regularly inspect and test all hoses, piping, and transfer equipment to ensure they are in good working order.
  • Follow industry standards and ensure pre-operation safety checks are conducted.
  • Have the right type and amount of on-site response equipment, such as personal protective equipment, sorbents, containment boom, and other appropriate gear. The equipment must be easily accessible.

We developed focus sheets and guidance documents for all classes of facilities to help in complying with our oil-transfer requirements: