Plan to Handle Oily Sludge

Plan to Handle Oily SludgePlan to Handle Oily Sludge

A plan is gaining traction at the National Iranian Oil Company to start remediation and dumping of oily sludge, a polluting waste produced from crude oil.

Dariush Lali, the head of a special department for trading sludge and other petroleum wastes at NIOC, said the initiative to collect and sell oily sludge started a few years ago and the first transaction is expected to take place in the near future, Shana reported.

NIOC's subsidiaries have been instructed to put out tenders for recovery or disposal of oily sludge following the Oil Ministry's approval last year of a scheme to hold tenders for the waste product.

"Some subsidiaries of the NIOC have implemented methods to reduce volume of sludge and clean oil-tainted soils," Lali said. "Negotiations have been made with some foreign companies for the transfer of sludge treatment technology."

Oily sludge is one of the most significant solid wastes generated in the petroleum industry. Data show 3-5% of all crude oil produced is ultimately unusable.

Most major international oil companies subcontract for sludge recycling and dumping.

Sludge exists in many different forms: Slop stored in large reservoirs at oil refineries, contamination of ground and water as a result of pipeline accidents as well as heavy unprocessed oil waste at crude extraction sites.

In addition, sludge settles to the bottom of the vessels and containers when transported in ships or stored in tanks, inflicting often considerable expenses for cleaning containers.

"There was no clear legal and financial framework [for dealing with oily sludge] before the approval of the new plan," Lali said.

The plan is aimed at boosting environmental protection and cutting production costs for crude oil.

"Oily sludge has environmental hazards, thwarts production and overhaul operations, and imposes unanticipated costs," he said.

According to Lali, revenues generated from sludge tenders will be deposited in an NIOC bank account.