Petroleum Wastewater & Sludge Processing: History and Challenges

Updated: Dec 30, 2019


Crude oil production and oil refinery wastewater streams have caused environmental challenges for many years. In the 1950s, refineries were discharging wastewater containing up to 4000 mg/L of oil on a regular basis. As late as 1973, German law required only 95% removal of oil. Regulation becomes stricter over time (Ali et al. 2015, Mandal et al. 2007, Morillon et al. 2002).

After a ban on the depositing of untreated oil sludge in landfills, the oil sludge from oil fields, refineries and industrial water-treatment plants can be regarded as a problem. Waste products of the water treatment process can be a problem or an opportunity - a source for obtaining raw materials.

a good look at how water and oil production coexisist
a good look at how water and oil production coexisist, source google

Origins of Waste Discharge Requirements

The regulation in the European Union prohibits the deposition of raw sludge and fats, oil, and grease (FOG) in any environment. These wastes must be processed first by stabilization and drying to be used as either fertilizer, building materials, or alternative fuels. The drying of sludge is energy consuming and uneconomical. The main problem aside from energy efficiency is the variability of the sludge quality as a raw material. The sludge can also be contaminated with pollutants and organisms (Bratina 2016).

Sludge composition includes recoverable hydrocarbons, chemicals, heavy oil, metals, asphaltenes, paraffins, olefins, aromatics, heteroaromatics, rubberized tar, wastewater, mineral salts; organic, non-organic matter; light solids, sand. (Holliday and Deuel, 1993).

The composition of the hydrocarbon mixture may change significantly when it is released or contained in the open environment. Wastes including surfactants, petrochemicals, hydrocarbons, FOG, BOD5 and sludges are all possible components of petroleum industry waste and evaporation, temperature and sun exposure will allow for degradation over time.

Solutions are needed for:

  • Terminal Tank Sludge Removal

  • Oil and Fuel Spills;

  • Refinery Wastewater Treatments;

  • Sludge Processing;

  • Oil and Fuel Tank Cleaning;

  • Barges, Railcar Cleaning

  • Easy Deployment and Mobility

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