Site Location: Port of Brownsville, Texas

Contamination: No. 6 Crude Oil, Asphaltenes and Paraffins

Structure Treated: Above Ground Land Based Storage Tank

Effectiveness: 75 Hours of Labor Reduced by 50%, Vacuum Truck Rental Time Reduced by Half



Project scope: Complete cleaning of a large land based storage tank that had accumulated petroleum sludge up to two inches thick within the interior sidewalls along with heating coils covered in baked on asphaltenes.


Challenge: Seeking to step away from traditional cleaning methods, the customer contacted SouthWest Services for a more cost-effective and time-efficient solution. Conventional cleaning methods, on average, take upwards of 75 hours to complete a job and require personnel to physically enter the tank, exposing them to hazardous contaminants and dangerous high-temperature pressure washers.


Situation: To execute a project of this scale, traditional cleaning methods require the application of off-the-shelf surfactants and other cleaning materials, including manually scrubbing the inside surface walls with brushes, followed by the spraying of those walls with high-temperature pressure washers. Another major concern is the discharge of up to 3,000 gallons per tank of contaminated water.


Solution: SouthWest Services nanoscale technology produces products that are non-toxic, environmentally friendly and fully biodegradable in 28 days. Formulated from plant-based derivatives, our products minimize wastes by converting tank sludge into a liquid that flows to the bottom of the structure, allowing operators to easily pump out the oil and other fluids. This is achieved through SouthWest Services two-step process that first applies our solvent called SWS S16, followed by the application of our finishing rinse called SWS C83.


Step 1: Using a low-pressure sprayer, we applied SWS S16 to the inner walls of the tank. The solvent works fast, about 20 minutes, liquefying the media and releasing the deposits gripping the surface of the tank.


Step 2: We then rinsed the inside of the tank with our super-concentrated nanoscale formulation, SWS C83. Diluted with water at a rate of 1:500, the C83 is applied with a pressure washer, (we use non-heated pressure washers, important to maintain the integrity of the vinyl-coated lining of the tanks). The rinse acts to desorb the remaining oil from the surface, leaving it clean and residue-free.


Results: The operator found that using SouthWest Services and their two-step cleaning process with SWS S16 followed by SWS C83 was much more effective than competing cleaning systems, while allowing the tank owner to put the tank back in service in less than half the time than before. The operator cut total tank cleaning time by 50%, significantly reducing labor and equipment hours. For a single storage tank, total costs were slashed by 59%. The contractor, whom has been in the service industry for 10 years, said “I’ve used dozens of products, and tried everything I can get my hands on and SouthWest Services has a product and service that I truly believe is the answer. It’s saving us time which is money, disposal fees which is money and down time, giving us the competitive edge we need.”


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