Tank cleaning procedures are well-known and efficiently run in oil refineries, but tank farms are still lagging behind on aspects of safety.
There is no doubt technology has developed significantly over the last decade, but human activity sometimes falls short of expectations.
There is a tremendous pressure from local or regional legislation on safety and environment, but what is left out of the equation is that the human behaviour operating procedures are not controlled the same way as technology is, and definitely not as regulations would like it to be, Sweden-based Orecos MD Michael M Meyer says.
Oreco and other tank cleaning companies are addressing this by upgrading the operational procedures, as it is no longer just a question of a good system, but a concept that combines the right technology with the right people and the right procedures.
Oreco has been working on a new interface with operators and has developed a certifiable management system for tank cleaning combining ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environmental protection) and OHSAS 18001 (health and safety) standards.
We try to ensure the right business and operation processes to create, with the right equipment, a high quality service with due respect to the environment and healthy and safety, Meyer adds.
Oreco employs an automatic non-man entry tank cleaning approach, where a jetting process is conducted in a closed loop meaning very few hydrocarbon gases will escape from the tank and all the oil and sludge will be contained inside the piping.
It operates in a way that the company uses the sludge itself for de-sludging the tank and follows up by hot water cleaning at temperatures of around 80oC depending on the size of the tank. All the while the process allows for solids and water to be separated from the oil, so the oil can be recovered.
The process is utilised on tanks with volumes from 20,000 to 100,000 m3 and takes around one month depending on the size and amount of sludge.
Michael Meyer will be addressing the subject Striving for tank cleaning excellence on the morning of 25 March at StocExpo Europe at the Ahoy in Rotterdam.