Site Location: Frac Tank Storage Yard, Eagle Ford Area – June 2012
Contamination: Oil-base Mud, Sewage, Acid, Petroleum-based Sludge
Area Treated: 145 Frac Tanks
Effectiveness: Completed in 90 Days vs. competitive                                                                                                                    estimates of 12 Months, with customer savings of  $500,000



Project scope: Located at a yard in the Eagle Ford Shale region were 145 idle and unusable frac tanks, many of which had been abandoned there for more than two years. Each had to be emptied of contaminants, cleaned and restored to usable condition before they could be redeployed in the oilfield.


Challenge: All of the frac tanks contained various levels of solid waste and wastewater contaminated with chlorides and other equally toxic materials. Most of the tanks served as offsite repositories for hundreds of loads of 130-barrel vacuum bottles containing a myriad of wastes including oil-based mud, petroleum sludge and other contaminants from Eagle Ford Shale well sites, as well as sewage from local camps serving as living quarters for oilfield personnel.


Situation: Due to some of the frac tanks’ deteriorating seals and leaky valves, contamination had seeped outside the structures, creating a hazardous work environment. The owner not only faced the cost of cleanup but significant revenue losses due to the tank inventory sitting idle. Cost estimates to clean the tanks and safely dispose of the contents were in the $1 million range, with estimated completion times of 12+ months.


Solution: We recommended deploying the unique green cleaning power of SouthWest Services“1-2 Punch” biodegradable product tandem, SWS Solve16 and SWS Cleanse83.

The 2-step cleaning process started with our application of SWS S16, a 100% concentrated solvent poured undiluted into the tanks, acting as a pre-soak. It quickly and effectively broke down and liquefied the baked-on petroleum sludge. Our proprietary finishing rinse, SWS C83, was then applied with a high-pressure sprayer to the tanks’ inner surfaces, desorbing the remaining oil residue from tank ceilings, walls and floors. At no time did our personnel need to enter the tanks.

Fluids that had pooled at the tank bottoms were pumped into an external processor and separated. Oil was captured and sold, while the contaminated water was recycled into chloride-free Ag water and safely hauled off to the city wastewater facility, rather than a disposal well. The processed solids, tested in a lab at TPH levels of less than 1%, were placed in a pit under our oversight.


Results: SouthWest Services completed the 145-tank cleaning job in 90 days versus 12 months. We reduced our customer’s cost by approximately 50% and the battery of frac tanks, looking as if they had never been used, was returned to service and began generating revenue shortly thereafter. Finally, the contaminated solids and wastewater residing in the tanks before the job began was converted into organic material and treated onsite with our oversight.



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