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Automated tank cleaning yields nearly 100% hydrocarbons - Oil & Ga...

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Automated tank cleaning yields nearly
100% hydrocarbons

Jan S. Hummer

Toftejorg Technology A/S
Baldershøj, Denmark

A mobile, automated tank-cleaning system, used in the past 3 years at more than 50 sites in
Scandinavia and northern Europe, requires no tank entry or contact with hydrocarbons by
personnel, and it has proven faster than manual systems.

Developed and marketed by Toftejorg Technology AS, Denmark, and called the Blabo system,
it also simultaneously separates the resulting sludge. This allows nearly 100% recovery of oil
and the least sludge for disposal.

The oil industry's five main divisions-exploration and production, transportation, storage,
processing, and distribution/marketing-have devoted enormous amounts of capital and

resources to the discovery and extraction of oil as well as to the questions of how the oil is
processed, how it is distributed, and how it is sold.

Comparatively fewer resources have been invested in developing more-efficient ways of

transporting oil. And almost nothing has been invested in more effective ways of storing oil

Most tanks are cleaned manually.

9/1/2016 1:36 PM

ogj. piping. a sludge layer of 30-50 cm is usually found. the water is drained and the top level of oil sucked out and returned to crude. they have transferred the problems to other tanks. it is common to fill in 5. they have generated considerable problems in fouling the desalter. and heavy vacuum gas oil. is relatively easy and should require no more than 6-12 hr. none has been entirely successful.000 bbl) of gas-oil component and then.000 cu m up to more than 120..000-90.Automated tank cleaning yields nearly 100% hydrocarbons . thereby minimizing the sludge volume to be removed. to stir the tank content for 1-4 weeks. such as naphtha.000 cu m (30. fuel oils.500 cu m of sludge. some of the hydrocarbons in the sludge area are dissolved in the gas oil. At best. These primarily focus on reducing the amount of sludge by resuspending actions. It is pumped into separation tanks or into open concrete separation pits. heat exchangers. When the tank is subsequently opened for cleaning.000 cu m (748. At worst. alternative mechanical or chemical cleaning methods have been developed. They have floating roofs. In this way. Cleaning tanks which have held white oil products. however. The mixture of sludge and water is then delivered to the refinery for further treatment and processing.. & Ga. From here. The total process may take 5-16 weeks. gasoline. 2 of 7 http://www. is not only difficult and time consuming but also can be risky and is always expensive.. and heights of 18-22 m (55-66 ft). with diameters ranging from 40 to 80 m (120-240 ft). bitumen. Before a tank is opened for cleaning and after it has been emptied as thoroughly as possible. and diesel oils. The largest tanks are crude-oil tanks which vary in size from 30. with built-in mixers. Cleaning tanks which have contained black products.800 bbl).. on the other hand. The remainder is disposed of either within or outside the refinery. For various reasons. The cleaning contractor uses vacuum trucks and large volumes of water and gas oil to facilitate the manual labor of removing the sludge water mixture. Over the years. such as crude oil. This is equivalent to a volume of 500-1. which is then dug and sucked out of the tank.000-15. jet fuel. and the 9/1/2016 1:36 PM . Such tank cleaning for inspection and maintenance is therefore usually postponed as long as possible and normally occurs at intervals of as long as 8-12 years.

The third part of the cleaning system-the separation module-contains hydrocyclones.. which is placed inside the tank to be cleaned. laws already require tank inspection every 4-6 years. 3 of 7 In this way. or RJHs). The process delivers the cleaned out sludge in its three main components: clean oil (hydrocarbons).Automated tank cleaning yields nearly 100% hydrocarbons . 9/1/2016 1:36 PM . these frequently have to be reprocessed. Toftejorg developed and patented a process specifically geared to the cleaning of large crude and fuel-oil tanks. This recirculation module consists of pumps. Fig. and hydrocyclones that treat and heat the sludge so that it can be recirculated into the tank through the RJHs. By means of energy (elec tri city/ steam) alone and primarily using the treated sludge itself as the cleaning medium. lower part of the crude distillation column.Oil & Ga. and solids (inorganic components). The RJHs are connected to the second part which is placed outside the tank. filters. clean water. consists of several specially designed Toftejorg tank cleaning machines (rotating jet heads. They are positioned inside the tank through existing tank openings so that all parts of the tank can be reached by jets of heated oil sludge. New system Recent legislation has started to call for more frequent tank inspections.. The first part. more sludge is fluidized and can be pumped out for separation. Between 1991 and 1993. this ultimately costs refining capacity and lost refining margin. the process can remove and separate 150-300 cu m/day of sludge. some oil companies have begun to analyze other options and determine the true cost of having a tank taken out of service. heat exchangers. As a result.. In almost all these systems. The real total cleaning costs are typically found to be higher than the price paid to the contractor for the manual removal of the sludge. relatively large volumes of gas oil components are utilized. If the refinery is running at or near maximum capacity. The Blabo system combines automated tank cleaning with simultaneous sludge separation. In such industrialized countries as Germany and Japan. 1 [17790 bytes] shows the three parts of Toftejorg's Blabo system.

. A tank containing 1. not taken into consideration when total cost is envisioned.000 cu m) for inspection and hot work. and the delay in the marketing of products are often forgotten and. the costs specified in Table 1 [82291 bytes] must be considered in a comparison of overall cleaning costs. Costs. applications The most direct and obvious cost in connection with a traditional cleaning of a tank is payment to the contractor for removing the sludge and washing the tank. transportation. the lost refining margin. and high-speed centrifuges which separate the sludge into oil. The recovered oil is of high quality.below). Denmark (Fig. By other. and solids (Fig. manual methods..500 cu m of sludge consisting of 75-85 vol % hydrocarbons. The tank contained 9/1/2016 1:36 PM . it undergoes a hot-water wash. and incineration of sludge. For either a traditional (manual) method or the Toftejorg method for preparing a crude tank (60.Automated tank cleaning yields nearly 100% hydrocarbons . 2 [24309 bytes]). Toftejorg's system has been used to clean tanks at more than 50 sites in Scandinavia and northern Europe during the last 3 years.000 cu m crude-oil tank operated by Dansk Shell AS at its refinery in Fredericia. In most cases. 4 of 7 the tank is inerted by nitrogen or flue gas to keep the oxygen content below 7-8 vol % while the cleaning process takes place.Oil & Ga. the hydrocarbon recovery will be 97-99%. In a 30. and the amount for disposal is reduced by 60-80% to approximately 200 cu m. water. the Toftejorg unit had been exposed to a fire. 10-15 vol % water. decanters. With a traditional manual method. the total cost is 3-6 times the cost of the contractor. 65-75% of the volume of hydrocarbons may be recovered. When the tank has been emptied of sludge.ogj. again using the RJHs. and 600-800 cu m will require disposal. After this wash. Before the RJHs are activated. 3 [25155 bytes] presents a comparison of the Toftejorg method with other more common methods. the cost of separation. and 5-10 vol % inorganics will normally be cleaned in 12-16 days. With the Blabo method. the tank is opened for inspection and maintenance. Costs for establishing recirculation systems for reprocessing the gas oil. this operation could take from 5 to 8 weeks or even more. 4 . Fig... in fact.

the tank was cleaned without prior gas-oil circulation. 1.000-bbl crude oil tanks at the Doras terminal operated by Dansk Shell at Fredericia were cleaned in September and November 1994.100 cu m of sludge. At Esso's Tönsberg. 5). 5 of 7 http://www. At Esso Norway's Tönsberg refinery.Oil & Ga. The cleaning was performed in less than a week with total separation of the sludge into clean water.. Total hydrocarbon recovery was greater than 99% (Fig. Cleaning is under way on this 30..000 cu m water ballast tank turned out to contain 9/1/2016 1:36 PM . refinery. It contained 1. Cleaning time was 2. hydrocarbon recovery was 98-99%. Total waste (solids) for disposal amounted to as little as 14 cu m (Fig. 14 cu m (5 bbl) of solids were separated from 600 cu m of sludge in this 60.000 cu m (200. 50. For a 60.000 cu m (375.100 cu m of oil/wax/water/debris.8 (Fig. Norway.000 bbl) crude-oil tank. Hydrocarbon recovery was greater than 98% of the original tank-bottom content. Specific weight of solids was approximately 1. The hydrocarbon recovery was in excess of 98%. refinery. 4). If the tank had been handled in the usual (manual) manner.ogj.. most of this dirt would have been deposited in heat exchangers.Automated tank cleaning yields nearly 100% hydrocarbons . a 30.below). 5 . and solids.5 weeks.000 bbl) crude-oil tank.. furnaces. Norway. Two.100 cu m of heavy sludge which required 7 days for the automated cleaning unit to clean and separate. Total cleaning and separation time was 6-7 days with no man hours spent inside the tank. more than 19 cu m of inorganic solids were extracted. and distillation columns or in the fuel oil fraction. From the 1.000 cu m crude-oil tank at the Esso Norway AS Tönsberg.

ogj. 800-900 cu m heavy fuel oil and water. an SNS tank-cleaning machine was for the first time used on a 32.Oil & Ga. Stay Connected Home Events Exploration & Development White Papers General Interest 1455 West Loop South Houston. two companies in the Danish Toftejorg Group. The Author Jan S. At Svenska Shell AB's Gothenberg. 16% inorganics. and later for Haldor Topsøe A/S as consultant to the Kuwaiti government. He worked for Shell International. The Hague. The tank was cleaned in 9 operational days with total recovery of hydrocarbons. MS in chemical engineering from the Technical University of Copyright 1996 Oil & Gas Journal.. Sweden.. All Rights Reserved.. the newly developed Toftejorg SNS (Single Nozzle Sweeper) tank-cleaning machine was applied. Approximate sludge composition was 44% oil.000 cu m crude-oil tank. clean water. Before personnel entered the tank for the preliminary inspection. 6 of 7 http://www. Hummer is managing director of Toftejorg Services A/S and Toftejorg Technology A/S. refinery. he was president of Pasilac A/S. and 20 cu m of solids.. now a part of the APV Group. For the first time. Hummer was also director for the European companies of International Service System. Before becoming involved with Toftejorg as its main shareholder.Automated tank cleaning yields nearly 100% hydrocarbons . Hummer holds an Copenhagen. Texas 77027 Drilling & Production Processing Transportation Market Connection Webcasts PennEnergy Jobs Equipment 9/1/2016 1:36 PM . The cleaning was performed in 16 operational days without personnel entering the tank. 98% of hydrocarbons were 40% water.

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