How to do crude oil washing on ships in 10 easy steps

How to do crude oil washing on ships in 10 easy steps

COW or Crude Oil Washing cleans cargo tanks with jets of high pressure oil when the ship is unloaded. The crude oil is pumped through the washing machines to the jets and serves as a cleaning agent which is then pumped to land with the load/Product Discharge. It has been found that crude oil is more reliable washing medium than water. The washing / dissolving effect results in heavy, waxy and asphaltic deposits on the sides and bottom of the Holding tank to convert back into the liquid so that they are easily discharge To the shore. The Crude Oil Washing (COW) techniques has several advantages over washing with water, using Cow as the washing medium reduces the Sludge deposition, thereby reduces the discharge (Stripping) time and increasing the load/cargo flow. There low deposition of mud at the bottom of the tank which reduces Ship constant and so increase its dead weight. On the other hand washing with water takes more time due to more deposition of mud at the bottom. They not only cause delay in washing but also release hydrocarbon gases which becomes a challenge to gas free the tank. There are three essential prerequisites for the washing of petroleum product:

A fully functional inert gas system for maintaining the tank atmosphere in an inert state during the whole wash cycle.
Fixed Piping Lines for Tank washing system
Means to ensure that the bottom of the tank is clean and dry at the end of the operation.

The vessel must be equipped with an inert gas system which can function properly and produce Inert Gas with a maximum oxygen content of 5%. This should be maintained during the COW to ensure that the oxygen content does not exceed this value. No COW operation to be performed if the Inert Gas installation of the ship is not working properly and the oxygen content is not within the desired limit. The oxygen content must not exceed 8% by volume. The IG pressure in the tank must not be less than 200 mm. wg. The vessel to be washed with oil must be equipped with a fixed tank wash system connected by permanent lines to the main load venting system or by separate laundry lines of the loading system. The crude oil washing of discharging tanks takes place in a single step or in several stages during the discharge of the charge.

One Step Washing:

As soon as the tank is almost emptied , Washing starts and the tank is dried under pressure during the last washing step using stripping. The machine adjusts to the vertical angle from 0 to 140 degrees. Since single-stage washing is performed only during the last tank discharge stage, it is necessary to use the ship's instructor to remove the pump or reduce the speed of the charge pump so that the vacuum pump is effective. This method is generally useful between discharges at two terminals or between ignition operations.

Multi-stage washing

This involves washing the interior areas of the tank in stages as the load is pumped out of the tank. The revolutions of the charge pump are not reduced. Depending on the back pressure in the distributor of the vessel, this process results in a very small time loss during the bulk discharge of the tank. The wax and sediment collected in the spacers and other structural elements above the bottom of the tank are removed and pumped with the load to the ground. Any wax or sediment on the underside of the tank remains as long as the soil is not washed and stripped as a separate step. This increases the total discharge time, but is required for sludge control.

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The machines are pre-set in the first stage at a vertical angle of 120 ° to 60 °. In the second step, when the loading level is about two thirds of the tank depth, it is set at a vertical angle of 70 ° to 30 ° and during the third stage when it is set to about 1 meter of the residual charge in the tank to 40 ° to 0 ° is. Each step is superimposed by approximately 10 ° in the preceding step, and the cycle is normally 11/2, ie, in the first step, for example, the nozzle moves in the horizontal plane by slowly changing its angle from top to bottom or from 120 * to 60 * from top to bottom, or from 60 * to 120 *, and from top to bottom, or from 120 * to 60 *

The regulation requires that the cow jets cover at least 90% of the horizontal surface area of the floors, rods and structural elements and at least 85% of the vertical direct zone. Shaded areas should be covered with splashes or deformations.

List of oil washing equipment controls
In the case of unloading of raw materials, the master must notify the competent authority and the terminal (or any other ship in transit to the ship), at least 24 hours in advance or at the time of compliance with the regulations. The washing of crude oil should only be approved once each step of the COW operation must be specified in the oil wash operation plan. There must be an operational checklist for the use of the crew at each port of discharge. This includes the control and calibration of all instruments to be used during the operation of the cow.

Pre-Arrival Checks at Discharge Ports

1. Notification to the terminal of the operation of the cow.
2. Is the oxygen analyzer successfully tested and operated?
3. Is the water heater and the flushing system of the motor compartment insulated?
4. All Valves Marked washing is isolated from that of engine room pipe line.
5. Are all V/vs closed for stationary tank washing machines?
6. Are the tanks cleaning lines under pressure and tested for leakage?
7. Do you make portable drives for the M/C quick tank sink that will be tested?
8. Have gauges on the top line relief manifold has to be verified.
9. Should the trimming system control equipment cheked?
10. Has the communication system been reviewed and tested?
11. Has the organizational plan been set up and defined the duties and responsibilities of crew?

 Checklist before cow Operation

1. All checks and conditions are in order prior to arrival.
2. Unloading/operating the raw oil wash has been discussed with ship and shore staff and is readily available the agreed plan for a simple reference?
3. Was the communication link between the control and control stations and the monitoring/shore station repaired and functioning properly?
5. Has the fixed and portable oxygen analyzer been verified and calibrated?
6. Is the inert gas generator functioning properly and the oxygen content of the inert gas is delivered below 5% of the volume?
7. Is the oxygen of the tank washed about below 8% in volume?
8. Is the gas pressure is positive for the entire cargo tank?
9. Keep person responsible for checking all the lines for leaks as soon as the operation starts?
10. Are stationary machines for the necessary washing and portable motor units, if installed, mounted and repaired?
11. Have valves and lines both in pump-room and deck been checked?

Checklist-During the operation of the cow

1. Is the quality of the inert gases supplied often controlled and recorded?
2. Are all deck and machine lines often tested for leaks?
3. Is the current tank only available for COW?
4. Is the pressure on the appropriate tank wash line indicated?
5. Is the processing time of the tank disk indicated?
6. Is the washing machine, which works with the propeller groups, often properly controlled and working?
7. is a responsible person constantly stationed on the bridge?
8. Will trim be satisfactory when bottom washing is in progress as specified in the COW manual?
9. Is the level in the reservoir for tank washing often checked to avoid overflow?
The cow should be abandoned immediately if:There is an error in the inert gas system or oxygen exceeds the permissible limit, or The pressure in the tank falls below the air pressure or a minimum required (usually 200 mm water gauge).

D Checklist-After cow operation

1. Are all the valves between the discharge and the washing line of the tank closed?
2. Has the laundry been drained of oil from the crude tank?
3. Are all valves closed to the washing machine?
4. Are the cargo pumps, tanks and pipes properly drained as indicated?

Sludge and sediment control

Under certain circumstances, substantial sludge may also form in the containers, even in the case of crude oils which are not normally associated with such accumulations. Studies of incidents of large sludge accumulation show that there are specific critical temperatures at which crude oil begins to precipitate hydrocarbon species that form mud. This temperature, cloud point, is the temperature at which the crude waxes change from their liquid phase to suspended, nearly solid particles with associated oil components. These particles separated by phases are installed at the bottom of the reservoir and form mud. Sludge from paraffinic crude oil, once formed, is extremely difficult to return to a liquid phase by heating alone. Even an effective COVER program, which eliminates them from boats, has only managed to solve the problem in shore-based containers.

Electrostatic risks
The oil used for COWing must be free of suspended water to minimize the formation of electrostatic charges by high pressure jets. To ensure that the oil supply to the VAE is dry, the cargo tank to be used must be discharged to the ground before the start of the COW. At least one meter of load must be discharged. This removes all bottoms from the tank before the mold starts. VACA procedures that remove the flushing fluid from the discharge current or use a sliding container that is then filled with clean oil will avoid this problem.

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Author ARPIT SINGH and Amit


Amazing and informative blog post. This is really easy way to clean up a boat. I used to do a lot of hard word for this and my process was tiresome. Your way of cleaning crude oil is simple and easy. Keep sharing such useful tips.
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