Choosing a safe and environment friendly tank cleaning method case study


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Choosing an environmental friendly tank cleaning method is imperative for BP-Gelsenkirchen GmbH (Ruhr Oel) due to a very strict legislation in the Ruhr district.

The environmental legislation in North Rhine Westphalia is known for being one of the most stringent in the world, and the authorities have imposed a series of specific regulations to minimise emissions. For example, hydrocarbon emissions to the air during cleaning of crude oil tanks must be less than 0.5 kg hydrocarbon/m² tank bottom.

When BP-Gelsenkirchen GmbH (Ruhr Oel), situated in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany, had to choose a tank cleaning contractor, it was vital that a service provider be found that fulfilled the demands for environmentally friendly and safe cleaning operations, without the need for staff to enter the tank during cleaning. A partnership between Ruhr Oel, Maersk Contractors and Oreco resulted in a tank cleaning procedure that complied with both local regulations and Ruhr Oel’s own practices.

Shorter tank down-time
In addition to the environmental issues, tank downtime is an important issue for tank farm management. Mr. Norbert Nagler from Ruhr Oel refinery estimates that compared to traditional manual methods, the use of the BLABO system reduces the cleaning time by approximately 50%.

The high hydrocarbon recovery represents both an environmental improvement, as disposal of sludge is reduced to a minimum, as well as cost savings, as nearly 100% of the hydrocarbons are recycled.

The safety benefits of the BLABO cleaning process are also considerable. Compared to conventional manual tank cleaning, time spent by personnel inside the tank is reduced by 90-95%, and no breathing apparatus is required. Only gas filters are required, and for no longer than one or two days.

Reduction of total tank cleaning costs
According to Norbert Nagler the total cost reduction is approximately 60% when using the BLABO technology instead of manual methods. This figure comprises all tangible and intangible costs, where there are significant reduction in all areas, including the contractor costs, tank downtime, amount of sludge for disposal, reprocessing costs for flushmedia (reduced by as much as 90-95%) and water savings.

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