The production, processing, and handling of oil and gas facilities normally result in the generation of high quantities of oily sludge. More than 20,000 m3 of oily sludge is generated annually. According to government and Saudi Aramco environmental regulations, oily sludge is considered hazardous waste. This requires extensive treatment and disposal costs, especially for remote sites from approved licensed management facilities. Tank cleaning is a major activity during Testing and Inspection (T&I) to downstream operations. Many tank operators in the company are still utilizing manual tank cleaning.

Oily sludge can be visualized as an opportunity rather than a waste. This paper will discuss a best practice that was developed by Saudi Aramco, the criteria developed for waste generators, and finally conclude with identified tank cleaning methods.

Environmental Protection Department (EPD) of Saudi Aramco has surveyed tank cleaning methods utilized at Saudi Aramco and other companies locally, conducted literature review of recent and well-established tank cleaning methods, surveyed local vendors at Saudi Arabia and contacted them about their capabilities and level of experience. Finally, EPD documented the findings and issued a best practice and shared it with tank operators for their information and use.

The main finding is that Automatic non-man entry methods for tank cleaning have proven to be successful from all operational, economical, environmental, and safety aspects.

Primary Author / Presenter
Tamim Alburaikan
Environmental Engineer
Saudi Aramco
Saudi Arabia