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Case story: Oil recovery in Libya

Libyan Zueitina Terminal received more than US $700,000 worth of recoved oil that under manual cleaning procedures would have been dumped in desert oil ponds. The tank cleaning job was performed by Oreco business partner, VAOS Ltd.

Libyan Zueitina Terminal asked Oreco business partner VAOS Ltd. (Value-Added Oil Service) to clean a crude oil storage tank of 79,000 m³ capacity, with 5,300 m³ sludge content. VAOS provides tank maintenance, repair services at refineries, oil fields, and tank terminals, and a broad range of construction of oil equipment to the Libyan oil industry. VAOS purchased the BLABO® system from Oreco early in the year 2003, and since then has relied on it for this type of project.

Libya is a major player in the world oil market and is presently experiencing high levels of investment within the oil industry to comply with the increase in oil production. Maintenance of processing equipment and storage tank facilities are consequently of high priority. Before maintenance can begin, tanks must be emptied for slude and cleaned. 

The Zueitina tank was one of the tanks in need for inspection and maintenance. Before it could be repaired and brought back on-line, it needed a thorough cleaning. This presented VAOS with several challenges: a double floating deck made access a difficult proposition, and the tank's contents of crude oil sludge and hazardous petrochemicals presented risks to VAOS workers. 

VAOS cleans a crude oil tank with double-deck floating roof at the Zueitina Terminal using the BLABO® system. Old slop oil ponds are seen in the background.

VAOS cleans a crude oil tank with double-deck floating roof at the Zueitina Terminal using the BLABO® system. Old slop oil ponds are seen in the background.

A fast and safe tank cleaning
Using the BLABO® system purchased from Oreco, VAOS cleaned the tank recovering 4,969 m³ of crude oil for Zueitina. Throughout the entire project, no VAOS workers ever had to enter the tank or risk exposure to potentially harmful substances.

Managing Director, VAOS

Managing Director, VAOS

Zueitina Terminal saved more than 700,000 USD

VAOS turned the Zueitina tank from an obstacle into a stepping-stone, by making it the first job in which they used the BLABO® system.

VAOS recovered 94% of the oil in Zueitina’s tank – representing a savings of more than 700,000 USD. If the BLABO® separation unit had been in use, the recovery rate would have been close to 100%.

In addition, the job was completed with total environmental safety: normally, oil recovered from a tank cleaning job ends up in desert oil ponds. Automated cleaning enabled Zueitina to safely recover the oil and transfer it into other tanks. During tank cleaning, it is normal practice to empty the waste oil into the desert, where slop oil ponds are formed, severely damaging the environment.

"Our agreement with Oreco positions us to become the service provider of choice to the Libyan oil industry," said VAOS Managing Director Johann Tomek. "Tank-cleaning is essential to growth in this area, and we are making it safe and extremely cost-effective, and providing unprecedented environmental benefits to boot."

The latest tank cleaning job VAOS has performed for a Libyan client meant that no less than 22,600 m³ of sludge was recovered, representing a value of several million USD.

Published: 2004-03-17
List of all Industry articles.

Read more about waste oil recovery here

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