Case Study to eliminate and clean the hydrocarbon buildup on the inner walls of crude oil pipeline owned by large terminal operator at the port.
Location: Port of Brownsville, Texas
Contamination: No. 6 crude oil, diesel
Area Treated: 2,500-ft., 12-inch pipeline
Effectiveness: 12 pigs reduced down to 4
Project scope: Eliminate and clean the hydrocarbon buildup on the inner walls of a 12-inch, 2,500-foot crude oil pipeline owned by the largest terminal operator at the port. Cleaned pipeline required to pass DOT inspection in order to be placed back in service.
Challenge: The pipeline transported No. 6 crude oil, one of the most difficult oils to treat due to its high viscosity. The average buildup on the inner walls of the pipeline was ½- to 1-inch thick. The dried oil had aggregated on the pipeline, making it extremely difficult to treat and remove.
Situation: The contractor initially selected several industry leading products to treat the pipeline’s substantial oil buildup, including Stack-Magic and diesel. However, due to the thickness and composition of the oil, conventional products were not penetrating or cleaning the caked-on deposits effectively. It was taking 12 full pig runs to get the pipes sufficiently clean and the contractor was missing customer deadlines and facing a huge financial loss on the project.
Solution: SWS was called in and recommended its 2-step cleaning process, which first applies its solvent, (SouthWest Services Solvent) SWS S16, followed by the application of its proprietary surfactant, (SouthWest Services Cleanse) SWS C83.
Step 1: Treated the pipeline’s inner walls using a foam pig soaked with SWS S16, which reduces the surface tension of the unwanted media. The wetting agent in S16 helps to rid hydrocarbon deposits, allowing access to inorganic materials. The pig soaked in S16 was pushed through
the pipeline three times, effectively cleaning and prepping the pipeline’s walls for the finishing rinse.
Step 2: Utilized a vinyl pig soaked with SWS C83 and pushed once through the pipeline. The application of SWS C83 desorbs and liberates oil molecules in a temporary emulsion, enabling the complete release, separation and recapture of the oil.
Results: SouthWest Services 2-step cleaning process effectively eradicated the pipeline’s oil buildup, allowing it to pass inspection, and doing so with a 60+% reduction in labor hours.
The contractor, a 10-year oilfield services veteran, said, “We had burned through 80% of our budget and the job was only 20% done. SouthWest Services products helped us complete the job on time, on budget and more effectively than we ever thought possible.”