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Leading Engineering Firm Tackles Ocean-Front Remediation System with Well Oil Skimmers

PetroXtractors Pull Nothing But Product at Two Recovery Wells

For most people, the phrase “ocean-front property” carries a pleasant cachet. For project engineer Stephen Hanks, “ocean-front property” just meant a headache with a view.

Hanks, who works for the Atlanta-based consulting firm MACTEC, was in charge of an ocean-front property containing a bulk fuel storage terminal. That terminal continued to create challenges caused by a spill that happened about 10 years ago. MACTEC engineers had dug a recovery trench to keep contaminants from leeching into the nearby natural water source. However, because of the site’s close proximity to a coral reef, this solution proved untenable in the long term. The coral would re-grow in the trench.

Recovery wells were installed, but engineers quickly realized that this direct recovery approach needed additional support to be 100 percent effective. When the floating pump system mounted on the wells began to fail, Hanks knew it was time to do additional research.

Problem solving comes naturally to MACTEC, a leading consulting firm of 3,000 employees in 80 locations. It provides engineering, environmental and construction services to public and private clients worldwide. The company’s core values of quality and accountability contribute to its ranking as a top design firms. A commitment to operational excellence was one reason the company chose to install two Abanaki PetroXtractor® Well Oil Skimmers to create an effective remediation system on its ocean-front project.

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Hanks was looking for a solution that provided the accuracy of a pump to pull fuel from the surface of the well water — but without the complications. “The pump method ultimately failed because it had too many parts and needed to accommodate too many variables. The fluctuating salinity of the water caused the pump float to sink, and the tidal influence posed a tremendous obstacle,” Hanks explains. “Pump controls needed to be calibrated very accurately to the specific gravity of the fuel and water. We needed something less maintenance-intensive and more reliable.”

After an extensive online search, Hanks looked to a flagship product from Abanaki Corporation – the PetroXtractor. Two units were installed on different recovery wells on the site. With the ability to separate oil from the water surface from an elevation of up to 100 feet without a pump, the PetroXtractors maintained skimming efficiency even in the fluctuating water levels created by the tide. Their continuous belt action made use of the differences in the specific gravity and surface tension between oil and the water to attract floating oil from the well surfaces and skimming it very efficiently without additional labor. The fact that the units skimmed very little water during recovery was an added bonus that he and his team soon discovered.

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“Prior to installing the Abanaki PetroXtractors, weekly visits to the well sites were made so that the fuel could be pumped by hand using diaphragm pumps,” Hanks says. “The skimmers are run approximately 16 hours per week, and have been working very well. Because the skimmers are not pumping water out of the wells there is no water treatment issue, which is a major benefit.”

The PetroXtractors’ simplicity was another asset. After picking up the oil, the belts travel over head pulleys on each drive unit and through tandem wiper blades. Oil is then scraped off both sides of the belt and discharged through a small hose. Installation consists of merely lowering the belt and tail pulley into the casing until the pulley is fully immersed, placing the discharge hose in a container and switching the unit on.

“When dealing with remediation projects that can last over a period of many years, complicated systems are difficult to pass on as new project managers take over,” Hanks says. “The PetroXtractor well oil skimmer is great for long-term projects and can easily be passed on with little explanation of how it works.”

“The PetroXtractor system is not complicated and was very simple to set up. Other systems using pumps have a complicated logic system control panel, which makes the pumps work in series when dealing with multiple wells at a site. When one part of this system goes down, the whole system goes down. With the multiple PetroXtractors installed at one site, each unit works on its own and can continue to operate should other units require maintenance.” he adds.

Most of all, the Abanaki oil skimmers have been consistent with MACTEC’s focus on making their clients more successful with value-added services. “With the Abanaki PetroXtractors in place site visits are much less labor intensive and the PetroXtractor has proven to be about 20 to 30 percent more efficient than manually pumping the wells,” Hanks says.

Artline #1:

The engineering consultants MACTEC were in charge of an ocean-side property containing a bulk fuel storage terminal. That terminal continued to create challenges caused by a spill that happened about 10 years ago. Seeking a solution, Engineer Stephen Hanks looked to a flagship product from Abanaki Corporation – the PetroXtractor Well Oil Skimmer. Two units were installed on different recovery wells on the site. With the ability to separate oil from the water surface from an elevation of up to 100 feet without a pump, the PetroXtractors maintained skimming efficiency even in the fluctuating water levels created by the tide.

Artline # 2:

The PetroXtractors’ simplicity was a great asset. After picking up the oil, the belts travel over head pulleys on each drive unit and through tandem wiper blades. Oil is then scraped off both sides of the belt and discharged through a small hose. Installation consists of merely lowering the belt and tail pulley into the casing until the pulley is fully immersed, placing the discharge hose in a container and switching the unit on.

Learn more about PetroXtractor.

Learn more about Groundwater Remediation.

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