Difficult cleaning task called for expert assistance - case study


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Facts and figures

Location: Milazzo Refinery, Italy
Contractor: Giovanni Aprile S.p.A.
Sludge content: Slop oil and ballast water from oil tankers
Tank type: Floating roof single deck type, Cone up
Tank capacity: 15,000 m³ / 95,000 bbls
Sludge volume: 2,760 m³ / 17,388 bbls
Sludge composition: Oil 25%, Solids 45% and Water 30%


Cleaning time: 50 days (from mob-in to mob out)
Recovery: 690 m³ / 4340 bbls
Solids separated: 1,242 m³
Water separated: 820 m³

Milazzo Refinery favours regular cleaning The Milazzo Refinery is a joint venture between ENI SpA from Italy and Kuwait Petroleum, located on the outskirts of Milazzo. The Refinery has a relatively large number of aboveground storage tanks for everything from crude oil to refi ned products. The tanks are regularly cleaned in accordance with inspection and maintenance.

BLABO process chosen for a typical task Different contractors, mainly from Italy, have cleaned tanks at the Refinery. In August 2009, the Refinery decided to award this particularly atypical job to the local Italian company Giovanni Aprile S.p.A, which owns a BLABO system, due to the advantages offered by the process. The task at hand was not a standard crude oil tank, so the Refinery decided to utilize a contractor with a long track record of reliability; a contractor capable of implementing an innovative tank cleaning solution in keeping with the Refinery policy for having the highest regard for safety, health and environmental aspects.

High solids and ballast water content The atypical tank in question was a Trash Tank containing a relatively low content of hydrocarbons and an unusually high content of solids and ballast water. These conditions made the job particularly diffi cult. The Refinery was keen to avoid any need of having personnel entering the tank until gas-free, clean conditions were achieved. Furthermore, reducing volumes of polluting matter as much as possible while completing the work in relatively short time were main concerns for the refinery.

Rapid cleaning process
The work was completed in relatively short time for a job of this nature. No incidents were reported, and it is estimated that work was completed in approx. half the time required by the alternative solution proposed by other contractors. The rugged BLABO system effi ciently removed large solids contents, and the fully trained and certifi ed BLABO operators ensured speedy completion to meet the Refinery’s expectations.

Benefi ts to the Milazzo Refinery

  • Non-man-entry work execution
  • Cleaning time reduced to 2 months
  • Recovered oil 690 m³ / 4,340 bbls
  • Savings for reducing waste disposal volume in
  • 1,518 m³ / 9,560 bbls

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