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Loading Arms for Oil & Gas Operations: Which Style is Best?

The oil and gas industry encounters many challenges during loading and unloading operations as it must adhere to several safety, industry, and environmental regulations. This can make determining the best possible loading system for your operations challenging. Fortunately, with over twenty years of experience providing Canadian companies with top-quality access and loading solutions, Northern Platforms is here to help.

Below, we will compare hoses and loading arms and then walk you through the three main styles of loading arms, helping you determine which would be best for your oil and gas operations. Continue reading to learn more. 

Hoses vs. Loading Arms: Some Considerations

You have several options when searching for the correct loading solution for your operations. However, you must first decide whether you will utilize hoses or loading arms. While loading arms tends to be the industry standard for oil and gas operations, many companies do opt to use hoses for a number of reasons.

Before looking further into one or the other, let’s look at a few things you should consider before deciding that hoses or loading arms are your best choice. 


  • Requires regular annual pressure tests
  • Can be difficult to stow when not in use
  • Can be driven over or dropped
  • May be very heavy to use if fitted with a valve at the tanker connection point
  • Faces challenges when heated or features a vent/purge valve
  • May be prone to catastrophic failure

Loading Arms:

  • Provides balanced and easy movement for various loading applications
  • Designed not to hit the ground, protecting the valves and couplers
  • Can be operated by one person
  • May be fitted with manual or actuated liquid valves and optional purge/vent components
  • May be moved into position with ease and left hanging in the air while the operator prepares the tanker connection
  • Can easily be stowed away when not in use

At Northern Platforms, we strongly recommend that oil and gas operations stick with the obvious and safer choice–loading arms. As a trusted distributor of OPW Engineered Systems products, we carry a wide range of loading arms that are perfect for oil and gas loading/unloading applications. 

Next, we will provide a short overview of the three main styles of oil and gas loading arms Northern Platforms carries. That way, you can determine which would be best for your operations. 

Top Loading Arms

Top loading arms provide tanker truck and railcar loading operations with an efficient and cost-effective means of handling oil and gas liquid products. A top loading arm system from Northern Platforms can provide your operations the protection your workers need to complete their duties efficiently without worrying about potential hazards like spills.

When selecting the right top loading arm for your oil and gas operations, our team will consider vehicle heights, required reach, vehicle spotting, material compatibility and more. At Northern Platforms, we can outfit your top loading arms for tight-fill, vapour recovery, marine, oil and gas, and other applications, ensuring your loading/unloading operations are safe and efficient. 

Bottom Loading Arms

Bottom loading arms are the industry’s top choice when explicitly searching for loading arms for oil and gas applications. This is because bottom loading arms from Northern Platforms aid in reducing vapours and the risk of static electricity as they produce less turbulence in the tanker during loading.

Additionally, our bottom loading arms can be outfitted with vapour recovery components and quick-connect fittings to help speed up your loading/unloading times. With their improved ergonomics and enhanced safety, it’s no wonder Northern Platforms’ bottom loading arms are the industry standard for oil and gas operations. 

Specialty/Custom Loading Arms

As the oil and gas industry has evolved to include biofuels and great environmental awareness, your loading system may require stringent features to ensure enhanced safety and eco-friendly fluid transfer practices.

At Northern Platforms, we can create specialty/custom loading arms for your oil and gas operations. From hatch plates and plugs to electric heat trace with insulation blankets, steam jacketing, or ContoTrace, we can ensure your loading system meets strict health/safety and environmental regulations. 

Your Canadian Source for Safe Loading Solutions

While bottom-loading arms are often the best option for the oil and gas industry, other options may be better suited depending on your unique applications and facility requirements. Northern Platforms’ team is here to help you determine the best loading system solutions for your oil and gas operations. So, don’t hesitate to contact us, and let our team walk you through your options. 

Together, we can ensure your loading/unloading operations are safe, efficient, and meet strict regulations.