Indian Balmer Lawrie uses BLABO to overcome difficult tank cleaning challenges case study


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Balmer Lawrie & Co. Ltd, a Government of India enterprise, specialises in providing tank cleaning and sludge separation services to the oil and petrochemical industries in India. Balmer Lawrie met a tough challenge at the IOCL Refinery in India, where they cleaned a crude oil tank with extraordinary high sludge content and had to work under very difficult conditions.

Extremely high sludge content
The tank to be cleaned had a crude oil capacity of 65,000 m³ and with an enormous sludge content of 9,651 m³. In fact, the sludge content reached in average a level of nearly 2 meters exceeding the level of the man-hole openings. At certain points, the roof rested on the sludge meaning that some of the roof legs were submerged in the sludge. This made it difficult or almost impossible for robotic solutions or humans to enter the tank. The Oreco BLABO was therefore highly suitable for this job as it does not require personnel to enter the tank during cleaning.

Cleaning under difficult conditions
To get the sludge out of the tank the first phase for Balmer Lawrie was to fluidise the oil. For this purpose, a number of tank cleaning nozzle were installed inside the tank. Under normal circumstances, the nozzles are designed to spray above the liquid surface. However, this cleaning operation had to start at a floating-roof condition, so the nozzles initially functioned in a submerged state.

The nozzles therefore operated at a reduced capacity (shorter throw length) and thus the desludging process lasted longer than usual.

Crude oil as cleaning media
Crude oil was used as cleaning media during the desludging process, in which about 90% of the sludge was fluidised and pumped out for further separation and treatment. The remaining sludge was removed by steam-jetting, which forced the sludge out of the tank through one of the tank man-ways. The ejected sludge was then treated in the normal manner by the BLABO system. Once the tank was emptied of oil, the tank received a final water wash, and after a short ventilation time, the tank was ready for inspection and manual fi ne cleaning to prepare the tank for hot work.

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