Checklist for Effective Crude Oil Storage Tank Cleaning

Work smarter with the right temporary equipment provider.

Cleaning crude oil storage tanks and performing hydro testing are routine tasks for refineries, and they require the use of temporary equipment ranging from frac tanks and mix tanks to high-pressure pumps and filters. The following tips can help maintenance managers and environmental managers streamline the process to save time and money.

1. Value experience

Time is money. When it comes to working with a temporary equipment provider, you shouldn’t have to spend hours with an account manager walking through your processes, showing them your tanks, measuring the distance between ponds and tanks or explaining your flow rates or the pump pressure you’ll require. Unfortunately, that’s likely to happen when you’re working with a sales rep who’s inexperienced or unfamiliar with your site.

Working with a provider who understands refinery operations, knows your facility and can anticipate what equipment, pressures and flows you’ll need shaves time off job walks and purchase ordering and may help you get the storage tank back into the production process sooner. An experienced vendor will also know the best place to bring in the equipment and how to situate it on site so it’s ready for operation.

2. Plan for contingencies

Crude oil storage tank cleaning may be routine, but that doesn’t mean the unexpected can’t or won’t happen. A tank may have more sludge than anticipated, or the sludge may come out faster than expected, which means you need more frac tanks now. Or the storage tank could be full of extra-heavy sludge that requires the use of mix tanks.

A vendor with a nearby branch and a robust equipment inventory is best prepared to deliver the number, size and types of tanks you need within a matter of hours.

Some issues require engineering expertise in addition to equipment. Suppose you need particulate filtration to grab solids or chunks of sludge that are flowing from the tank, or a filtration system to remove benzene from the discharged water. A partner with in-house engineers can design a filtration system that will get the job done properly the first time and help you avoid fines for violating environmental regulations.

3. Factor in vapor scrubbing

Some states, including Texas, California and Louisiana, require refineries to clean the vapors that come off their storage tanks during maintenance and service. Now other states are following suit.

Vapor scrubbing is an engineered solution that requires specialized equipment and expertise — for example, the scrubber has to be designed to handle the necessary air flow and burn rate for your system. Not many vendors perform vapor scrubbing, so plan in advance. United Rentals is one of few vendors that offer the equipment and in-house engineering to assist with both tank cleaning and vapor scrubbing.

4. Consolidate vendors

Managers often find themselves hiring two, three or even four different vendors to get the tanks, high-pressure pumps, filtration solutions and vapor scrubbing their projects require. That means multiple contracts, multiple job walks and multiple points of contact.

Finding one vendor who can service all your project’s needs creates efficiencies that save time. In addition, grouping more of your equipment spend under one vendor, potentially at a national contract rate, can save a significant amount of money.

Using the same partner across projects, including tank turnarounds, plant turnarounds and emergency shutdowns, makes even more sense.

Successful turnarounds require knowledge and experience and you should always consult with an expert regarding the specific circumstances, applicable rules and regulations related to your site and to your situation. To get support from United Rentals on your next turnaround, call us at 833.426.1188.

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