Tank Cleaning – Vacuum Residue Asphalt

Project Overview

 Tank Size  240 ft. (73 m) diameter
Tank Design External floating roof
Service Vacuum Residue
Sludge Volume 14,700 barrels (2,337 m3)
 % Oil Removed 97.3%
Time Required 4 weeks

Results Achieved

Recovered hydrocarbon liquids provided $275,000 in unexpected revenue for the client

Saved the client $700,000 in disposal expenses

Hazardous waste reduced from 1,700 tons to less than 100 tons

Chemical profiles


Created for the dissolution and recovery of asphaltenes in process equipment, pipelines and storage tanks.

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Rapid absorption of vapor-state hydrocarbons in an innovative encapsulant for effective decontamination and degassing of hydrocarbon processing equipment.

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A large Gulf Coast petroleum refining company in the United States had a large floating roof tank that required cleaning.


This tank was in heavy vacuum residue (asphalt) service. The asphalt had a melting point of over 204°C (400°F). A serpentine heater coil system that had been fitted in the tank was non-functional due to corrosion. Additionally, the tank floor was also expected to be damaged and leaking.


The company had previously cleaned a sister tank of similar size and debris/sludge volume by cutting access doors in the tank shell and excavating the asphalt from the vessel with backhoe equipment, which damaged the tank floor. The solids were disposed by incineration at a fee of $400 per ton. Approximately 15,000 bbls (2,384 m3) of solid asphalt was expected.


In this case the asphalt removal was completed with side-mounted circulation tools that carried a proprietary product chemical package (FQE™ Solvent-H) and cutter stock to facilitate the dissolution of the recoverable solids. Over 97% of the asphalt and diluent volume was salvaged as recoverable hydrocarbon. The tank was then treated with FQE™ LEL-V degassing product leaving the tank clean and vapor free.


The recovered hydrocarbon liquids were sold directly into the marketplace as marine diesel fuel for $19.00 per barrel giving the customer over $275,000 of unexpected revenue. The volume of hazardous waste was reduced from a projected 1,700 tons to less than 100 tons of non-hazardous waste (tank rust) saving the customer an additional $700,000 in disposal expense.

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